Will the Olympics do for Boston what it did for Greece?

For those still on the fence re Boston 2024:

http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2012-08-02/how-the-2004-olympics-triggered-greeces-decline

[Here is the first para of the piece - Ed:

As they watch the London Olympics, many Greeks may wonder how their country went from the international glory of the Athens Games in 2004 to the recriminations of today’s crisis. Hosting the event cost almost €9 billion ($11 billion at today’s exchange rate), making the 2004 Games the most expensive ever at that point. Greek taxpayers were on the hook for €7 billion, which did not include the cost of extra projects such as a new airport and metro system.]

Wonk Graphic: Facebook Candidate Announcement Day Interactions

Apropos of nothing (Facebook “Interactions” aren’t polls), herewith a graphic from Huffpo/Pollster:

2015-07-02-1435840420-728290-FacebookAnnouncementInternactions

UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate Program

We currently have 600 students registered in our UMass Sustainable Food and Farming Certificate Program. If you are interested in this 15 credit UMass degree, see:
https://stockbridge.cns.umass.edu/SFF-Certificate

AND…..

Our second 6-week summer session starts on Monday. The following classes are still open!
———————————————————————————-
Summer II Classes (July 6 – August 14, 2015)

STOCKSCH 100 – Botany for Gardeners (GenEd-BS; 4 credits)

STOCKSCH 117 – Agricultural Chemistry (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 297 V – Organic Vegetable Production (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 S – Sustainable Site Planning & Design (3 credits)

STOCKSCH 397 FV – Post-harvest Handling of Fruits & Vegetables (3 credits)
—————————————————————————————————————-

If you have not done so yet, please join our growing community of online learners on Facebook!

Dr. John M. Gerber
Professor of Sustainable Food and Farming
Stockbridge School of Agriculture
University of Massachusetts
www.johnmgerber.com

"Immutable"

As I’ve just explained, I’m not a huge fan of Justice Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell, even though I like the result.  However, there is one very good, very important thing in the opinion that I haven’t seen mentioned much, and which is critical to either an equal protection or a due process analysis.  It’s this (emphasis mine):

Far from seeking to devalue marriage, the petitioners seek it for themselves because of their respect—and need—for its privileges and responsibilities. And their immutable nature dictates that same-sex marriage is their only real path to this profound commitment….

Only in more recent years have psychiatrists and others recognized that sexual orientation is both a normal expression of human sexuality and immutable.

The fact that a majority of the Supreme Court has now recognized homosexuality as an “immutable” characteristic strikes me as a very big deal (the Court has hinted at this before, especially in Lawrence v. Texas and Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, but before last week it had never come right out and said it).  In the eyes of the law, at least, homosexuality is no longer a “choice.”  It’s just the way people are – like race and other immutable characteristics.  Legally, that could be a very big deal down the road.  It also seems to me to deal a blow to the folks out there who continue to espouse the view that people choose to be gay.  They may still think that, but the Supreme Court of the United States now officially disagrees.

I’m not the first to notice this – Ian Millhiser at ThinkProgress, among others, has noted it too.  But I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more attention.

The result in the Supreme Court's marriage case was absolutely right. But the opinion was a mess.

I was delighted to see the Supreme Court of the United States catch up with the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and hold last week in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry on the same terms as opposite-sex couples.  That result seems to me a perfectly straightforward application of well-established legal principles, in particular, the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.  Laws saying that same-sex couples can’t get married are obviously “discriminatory” in the literal sense of that word – they discriminate between people by denying a particular group of people benefits that other people get.  The state therefore has to justify the discrimination under the Equal Protection Clause, and in this case, they can’t.  And that’s pretty much it.  (Legal wonks: yes, there are complications relating to levels of scrutiny and the like – see the flip for more – but that’s the basic idea.)

Unfortunately, that’s not the approach that Justice Kennedy took in writing the Court’s majority opinion.  Instead, Kennedy delivered a soaring paean to the institution of marriage (sorry unmarried folks, you’re missing out on “our most profound hopes and aspirations”), and then went on for pages about autonomy, personhood, destiny, and dignity – all interesting and worthy topics, to be sure, but topics that are not well defined in legal terms.  He concluded as a result that the Court’s doctrine of “substantive due process,” specifically its “fundamental rights” jurisprudence that preserves rights deemed “fundamental” (by the Court) from government interference, gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Substantive due process is risky territory (in addition to being something of an oxymoron).  Most notoriously, in the early 20th century, the Court repeatedly used substantive due process to invalidate a variety of worker protection and other progressive state laws in the so-called Lochner era, on the ground that they interfered with the supposedly constitutionally-protected liberty of workers to enter into any kind of contractual arrangement they pleased, however exploitative it may have been.  (Lochner v. New York itself invalidated a New York law limiting the number of hours that bakers could work in a single day to 10.)  Over the years, substantive due process has been criticized as simply an excuse for judges to enact their policy preferences into law, and there is a kernel of truth there.  For a similarly skeptical take on Kennedy’s opinion from another supporter of equal marriage, you can read Brian Beutler at TNR.

None of which is to say that I disagree with what Kennedy’s opinion said about the importance of marriage.  I actually agree with a lot of it.  But he could have gotten most of that in had he used the better-established, less-prone-to-judicial-abuse doctrine of equal protection.  An equal protection analysis would have required the Court to examine the stated justifications for the marriage bans, and to assess whether they are good enough to justify discriminating against LGBT people.  The answer, of course, is that they aren’t, and much of Kennedy’s rather free-floating commentary about marriage could have been put to better use in supporting that conclusion.

But is there really anything wrong with Kennedy’s opinion?  Maybe.  One possible problem with giving constitutional protection to, say, “dignity,” which is more or less what Kennedy did, is that it’s not hard to imagine “dignity” cropping up in other contexts where the result might be far less pleasing to those of us who liked the result in this case.  For instance, to return to everyone’s favorite example, is it so hard to imagine a Christian baker claiming that having to make a wedding cake for a gay couple infringes not only on her free exercise of religion, but also on her dignity?  Is there a legal basis for distinguishing a constitutionally-protected dignity interest from a non-protected one, beyond garnering the vote of a majority of judges on whichever court is hearing the case?  Will we now face a barrage of dignity-based lawsuits, with the courts having to distinguish among the various types and manifestations of “dignity” that come before them?  I’m not sure that’s a road down which we want to travel very far.

In other words, I think that the Obama administration’s suggested approach was right.  In arguing that the marriage bans should be struck down, the administration relied solely on equal protection, and did so in exceptionally convincing fashion (to me, at least).  You can read the whole brief for the United States here (PDF).  I’ve pasted in the brief’s summary of argument on the flip.  (Disclosure: Stuart Delery, one of that brief’s principal authors, is a friend and former colleague.)

Womens World Cup. US v Japan. Sunday

For those of you unaware (’cause it’s not on ESPN, it’s on Fox Sports) the US Women’s National Team has, for the fourth consecutive time, made it to the World Cup finals. They will play Japan who ‘defeated’ England after a heartbreaking ‘own goal’, in stoppage time, by the Lionesses last night. I believe the final is scheduled for 7pm Eastern Time, Sunday night… Fox Sports. Check your local listings…

This is a re-match of the 2011 Women’s World Cup finals which saw the US lose to Japan. Despite deserving to lose to England the Japanese team is formidable: they play meticulous — often technically perfect — football. The US Women have played inconsistently (with the marked exception of Hope Solo who has got her game going on) but have saved the low spots for the lesser teams like Columbia and the Swiss and their larger efforts for the better teams: we beat Germany 2-0, for example. Germany and England play for third place on Saturday…

Also, relevant to previous conversations, FIFA President Sepp Blatter will not attend the final of the Women’s World Cup citing “personal reasons”… Probably been diagnosed with an acute fear of arrest with extradition.

MassBudget FAQ: Expanding School Meals and Implications for School Funding Formulas

Massachusetts schools are phasing-in a set of improvements to their school meals programs–expanding free breakfast and lunch for many kids, increasing federal revenue, and reducing administrative record-keeping. These changes help ensure that more kids eat healthy meals every day they’re learning at school, and yet, for technical reasons, they have forced the state to consider some adjustments to how it distributes school funding. MassBudget’s just released a new factsheet that responds to some frequently asked questions, with a particular focus on how they affect our Chapter 70 education aid formula.

The full FAQ has more detail, but here are the basics:

  • Historically, at the beginning of every school year, families have filled out income forms to apply for free or reduced school meals.
  • As the best available data on family income, the state used meal status to determine the relative need of different school populations and distribute funding accordingly.
  • Recognizing that many low-income families are already enrolled in other public programs that use similar income criteria (e.g. food stamps), districts have been simplifying the school meal application process by directly enrolling kids for free meals if they are already enrolled in one of these other programs. This new process is called Direct Certification.

Congressman McGovern: Opening U.S. Embassy in Cuba a Victory for American Diplomacy

waving cuba us flags

Today, Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02), a senior House Democrat and leading advocate of modernizing U.S. relations with Cuba, praised the announcement by President Obama that the Administration has reached a deal with Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations and re-open embassies. The effective date for re-establishment is July 20 when the Cuban government will re-open its embassy in Washington.

“Today’s announcement that the U.S. will re-open its embassy in Cuba is a victory for American diplomacy and a strong step forward for all who are working to achieve modern, normal relations between our two countries,” Congressman McGovern said. “In 2015, Americans know it’s time to embrace a truly 21stcentury approach to foreign policy that leaves the Cold War behind. This historic action brings us one step closer to making that a reality.

“By re-opening embassies in each other’s countries, we will be able to create new economic opportunities for American businesses, increase travel and exchanges, and support efforts to strengthen democratic reforms and human rights protections,” McGovern added. “I want to thank President Obama and Secretary Kerry, along with the two negotiating teams, for their leadership and work to make this happen. Today, the U.S. and Cuba are saying with one voice that we are ready to create a better future for our countries and our people. I look forward to seeing the U.S. flag waving proudly above our embassy in Havana later this month.”

In December 2014, when President Obama first announced the normalization of U.S. relations with Cuba, Congressman McGovern joined Secretary Kerry to welcome home Alan Gross, the American aid worker who was released from Cuba the same day.

Tweet of the Day: Boston 2024

Family and guardian rights bill gathering momentum

(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog)

After years of being stalled in the state Legislature, a bill that would boost the guardianship rights of family members of the developmentally disabled appears to have a chance of passage.

The bill (H. 1459), which was given a hearing last week by the Judiciary Committee, states that probate court judges should presume a spouse or parent is the proper person to be the guardian of an incapacitated person.

The Committee also heard testimony in support of a related bill (H. 1469), which would prohibit state or other authorities from charging a parent or legal guardian with abuse or neglect, based on the type of medical care the parent or guardian has chosen for an individual in their care.

While we are primarily concerned with legislation that affects people with developmental disabilities, both bills are about the rights of families to make decisions regarding the care of their loved ones. In a number of cases, family members have been overruled in their decision-making regarding loved ones, and, in some cases, have been removed from virtually all contact with them by state or clinical authorities.

Passage of the medical decision bill, dubbed “Justina’s Law,” is being sought by the family of Justina Pelletier, a teenager who spent nearly a year in a locked ward in Boston Children’s Hospital after doctors there disagreed with the family’s belief that Justina was suffering from mitochondrial disease.  Even though the family was relying on a diagnosis of mitochondrial disease from a doctor at Tufts Medical Center, the Children’s Hospital doctors claimed her illness was psychological and accused Justina’s parents of medical child abuse.

Member’s of Justina’s family testified last Wednesday in support of H. 1469.

It was standing room only in Wednesday's Judiciary Committee hearing on bills regarding guardianship of persons with developmental and other disabilities
It was standing room only in last Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on bills regarding guardianship of persons with developmental and other disabilities (COFAR photo)

The impetus for the H. 1459, the bill promoting family members as guardians of the developmentally disabled, came from Stan McDonald, who has been unable to regain his guardianship of his intellectually disabled son, Andy.  Stan has had to watch helplessly as Andy’s emotional needs have been ignored or neglected.  Andy McDonald’s current court-appointed guardian has had as many as 100 wards at one time.

H. 1459 would also potentially apply to a case in which a probate court judge dismissed several members of the Duzan family as unsuitable to continue as guardians of Sara Duzan, a young woman with a developmental disability.  The judge’s order set the stage for the eventual cutoff of all contact between the family and Sara for months, and forced them into an expensive and still ongoing legal battle over her custody.

A corporate provider executive director initially appointed as guardian of Sara Duzan had 24 other wards at the time, according to court records.

H. 1459 would not prevent a probate judge from removing family members as guardians or denying a family member’s bid to become a guardian, but it states that there must be “competent evidence” to rebut the presumption that a parent, in particular, is the proper person to be the guardian.

This year, H. 1459 has received support for the first time from the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council (MDDC), a state-run organization that identifies priorities for care for people with those disabilities, and from the Arc of Massachusetts.  The MDDC has listed the bill as one of its legislative priorities for 2015-2016.

In testimony to the Judiciary Committee last week, the MDDC stated that:

…the person who is chosen to be guardian must be someone who knows the individual well, can truthfully speak to the individual’s desires and has the time to devote to crucial decisions. In many cases, the natural choice for an individual’s guardian is one of the parents.

Testimony in support of H. 1459 was also submitted by COFAR and by a representative from the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), which is associated with the University of Massachusetts.

It is unclear when the Judiciary Committee, which has had both H. 1459 and 1469 before it since January, will vote on ether one.

In order to participate in the care of a developmentally disabled person, it is necessary to obtain guardianship of that person when they reach the age of 18.   Guardians have legal rights to participate in individual support planning, a key element in the care of developmentally disabled persons, and to make other decisions that affect their wards’ services and well-being.

In some cases, parents and siblings of incapacitated individuals are passed over by probate court judges in considering who to appoint as guardians, and, in some cases, family members are removed as guardians by judges.  In many of those cases, judges appoint either attorneys or corporate human services provider organizations as guardians, and those attorneys or providers may have no connection to the persons who need their representation. Some of those court-appointed guardians have large numbers of wards and are unable to advocate for them effectively.

Most court-appointed guardians for the developmentally disabled in Massachusetts appear to be paid for that work by the Department of Developmental Services.  The ICI representative’s testimony characterized such payments to court-appointed guardians by state agencies as a “clear conflict of interest.” The testimony noted that guardians paid by state agencies may not always act in the best interest of the ward.  This can “result in decisions to remove the family from virtually all decision-making authority in the care of their loved ones,” the testimony noted.

In appointing a guardian, a probate court judge is currently required by law to consider, in order of priority, a spouse, then a parent, and then “anyone else the court deems appropriate.” But a judge is not obligated to give more weight to a parent than to anyone else he or she deems appropriate.  In fact, the law currently allows judges to pass over a person having priority and appoint anyone else they wish as guardian.  That provision gives probate judges carte blanche to bypass the express wishes of parents and other family members.  H. 1459 would remove that bypass provision.

Possible amendments to H. 1459: 

COFAR’s testimony in support of H. 1459 suggested some changes that would strengthen it even further.   Those positive changes include adding siblings to the list in the bill of suitable guardians.  As the bill is currently drafted, it specifies only a spouse and parents of disabled individuals as being considered to be the proper guardian.  In the case of developmentally disabled persons who are aging, siblings are often the only family members in a position to become guardians.

COFAR also suggested other reforms to the guardianship system in Massachusetts, either as amendments to H. 1459 or as separate legislation.  Those reforms include:

  • Limiting the number of wards a court-appointed guardian can have, and requiring court-appointed guardians to devote a certain minimum amount of time to the ward and to visit them a minimum number of times.
  • Entitling family members of a developmentally disabled individual to an attorney if the Department of Developmental Services or another agency attempts to remove them as the guardian. In many cases, families are subjected to costly legal battles to retain or regain guardianship when state agencies seek to remove their guardianship rights.
  • Placing the legal burden on agencies such as DDS or on court-appointed guardians to prove that restrictions on family contact are in the best interest of the ward.

Both COFAR and the Arc oppose a separate bill that would remove a requirement that individuals with developmental disabilities be clinically evaluated when new guardians are appointed.  That bill (H. 1594) appears to be discriminatory in removing the evaluation requirement for people with intellectual disabilities but not for people with mental illness, for instance.  We believe that such evaluations are necessary for all incapacitated persons, particularly when new guardians are appointed.

Supreme Court: The Spirit of Massachusetts *IS* the Spirit of America

Both the Supreme Court’s decisions to approve ObamaCare tax credits and the rejection of state laws banning same-sex marriage take ideas that were first implemented in Massachusetts and make it national law. So now it’s official: The Spirit of Massachusetts is the Spirit of America:

(Context below:)

The Spirit of Massachusetts is the Spirit of America (commercial)

The Spirit of Massachusetts is the Spirit of America (Family Guy)

How New Federal Revenue Affects State Spending Trends

As part of our ongoing analysis of the state budget, we at MassBudget recently released a factsheet on how implementation of the Affordable Care Act affects the state’s fiscal condition (available HERE). Most significantly, the law provides substantial new federal revenue to the state. It actually provides more in federal revenue than the net state costs of implementing provisions of that law. This is good for the state’s overall fiscal health, but complicates any analysis of state budget trends.

As has frequently been noted, the overall state budget was growing by more than 6% between 2014 and 2015, before budget cuts in February. That appears to be – and in most circumstances would be – an unsustainable rate of growth. New Federal Revenue Affects State Spending Trends finds, however, that overall state own source spending grew only 4%–about the same rate as our overall economy. The difference between this 4% figure and the commonly cited figures over 6% was new federal money that flowed through our state budget to provide health care coverage for people covered by the Affordable Care Act. This was a one-time increase to a new level of federal reimbursement (which will largely be sustained), that does not affect future growth rate trends and did not reflect state own source spending this year.

While overall spending for MassHealth and health reform grew 8.6% from 2014 to 2015, net state spending for those programs grew 2.3%. Health care cost growth certainly remains a long term challenge, but the one-time increase in federal revenue that fueled this year’s spending increase should not be seen as constituting a trend. And the administration’s commitment to a thorough redetermination process should help to hold down cost growth next year.

Contrary to Predictions Market Basket is Thriving

A very illuminating article on the one year anniversary of the worker walkout that saved a landmark local company and thousands of well paying jobs with good benefits and generous profit sharing. Contrary to same nameless naysayers, the shelves are stocked and the sky didn’t fall.

Despite losing nearly half a million in lost sales, last year was still it’s most profitable on record.

The company is on track to record total revenues of about $4.8 billion in 2015, top executives say, the most in its nearly 100-year history. It is also in expansion mode, opening five new stores in the last year, some with upscale accents such as massive gourmet cheese islands, expanded organic food offerings, and outdoor cafe seating. Two new stores are under construction in Plymouth, Mass., and Rochester, N.H.

What about all that debt the nameless naysayer was worried about?

Analysts at the time predicted the debt burden would force Market Basket to either back away from its discount pricing model or curtail its unusually generous profit-sharing plan for employees.

‘Our business model is completely intact, and we’re running the shop with a lot less distractions.’

But so far, executives say, neither has happened. More than $129 million was handed out in employee bonuses and profit-sharing contributions in the past year, which is on par with prior years. And the consumer research firm Nielsen found, in a June report on supermarket pricing, that the company’s groceries were 15.9 percent cheaper than its competitors’ in the first six months of 2015. That’s nearly a full percentage point better than the same period in 2014.

“The whole fiasco last year has done nothing but increase its business,” said Kevin Griffin, publisher of the Duxbury-based Griffin Report of Food Marketing. “It increased curiosity about the company and strengthened existing customer loyalty.”

Thank you workers and Artie T for saving one of my favorite local companies, one I continue to recommend to U Chicago alum moving to the area, and whose lobsters I proudly brought back to Chicago last time I was home. The future in laws said it tasted as good as one freshly caught in the Philippines. Well done!

Joke Revue: Jeb Bush Surprised How Easily Stance On Confederate Flag Set Him Apart From Other Republican Candidates

And don’t miss the weatherperson profiled by Professor Oliver in his review below, along with his adroit reference to Boston (Go Bruins!).

Onion:

Jeb Bush Surprised How Easily Stance On Confederate Flag Set Him Apart From Other Republican Candidates

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Expressing satisfaction with the unexpected bump in his polling numbers, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush confirmed Monday that he was astonished by how easily his stance on removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina Capitol set him apart from the rest of the GOP field. “When I tweeted in support of taking down a widely recognized symbol of racism and white supremacy, I thought I’d fall pretty squarely in line with the other Republican candidates, but fortunately I was wrong,” said Bush after competitors in the GOP primary race either refused to voice an opinion to avoid offending voters or suggested that the decision should fall to the state’s lawmakers, establishing himself as the most sane member of the field “with pretty much zero effort.” “All I had to do was offer a basic sentiment about how they should take down a flag widely considered to represent slavery and horrific racial oppression, and boom—suddenly I’m the only enlightened one in the group. I wish everything was this effortless.” Bush reportedly expressed relief that he was able to stand out on the Confederate flag issue and wasn’t forced to change his stance on climate change, abortion, taxes, immigration, the economy, foreign policy, budget spending, education reform, or national defense.

RIP State Senator Thomas Kennedy

The Boston Globe is reporting that State Senator Thomas Kennedy (not THAT Kennedy family if anyone were wondering) has passed away due to health complications.  His district is anchored by his home city of Brockton and includes other towns in northern Plymouth County.  He held several chairman- and vice-chairmanships.  He was at one point studying to become a priest and had a disabling fall at age 19.  Thoughts and prayers with his family and I guess this starts the clock on a special election.

BBJ's Bombshells, or What's the Matter With Marty Walsh?

“what we know today is that Walsh has been far more invested in the city’s stretch for the Games than he initially let on, whether or not his team ever reviewed Olympics Bid 1.0 in its entirety.”

BBJ

As a Western Massachusetts resident, I don’t know much about Boston politics. But it seems like every month there’s another example of Boston’s Mayor doing something democratically graceless, if not downright sleazy. There was an agreement with the Grand Prix committee loaded with his friends and former staffers. Now, based on a Freedom of Information request, the Boston Business Journal levels a number of charges:

Mayor Marty Walsh and his staff confirmed to the Business Journal this week that City Hall never reviewed last winter’s formal bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics in Boston. That’s a problem.

"All Hail to Massachusetts!"

That is the title of our official state song and I would submit good advice for all Americans this week.  Despite being a political scapegoat for everything the Right, including a certain former GOP Governor trying to win presidential primary votes, finds wrong with the country (except when they misappropriate tea party imagery and rhetoric), the legacy of our fair Commonwealth was solidified by my count in three ways this week.

The Confederate flag, to many a symbol of slavery and the wrong side of the Civil War, was removed, or proposed to be, from many public and private venues this week.  Massachusetts was the first state to abolish slavery and the first state to send troops and to take fire in the Civil War.  We also provided the famous 54th Colored Regiment whose exploits are depicted in the movie “Glory”.  (Side note: President Obama’s eulogy of Hon. Rev. Clementa Pinckney is worth a watch; toward the end he sings Amazing Grace quite well.)

SCOTUS once again upheld “Obamacare” probably securing its legal legitimacy once and for all.  As you know this law is based largely on one promulgated in Massachusetts and signed by the aforementioned GOP Governor who went on to make us the butt of his political jokes.

Today, SCOTUS ruled that marriage equality must be recognized throughout the United States following, albeit with a several year lag, their counterparts on the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth.  According to one cartoon I saw today God will not strike the country with lightening just as He didn’t in MA because all He has in stock today are rainbows:)

Now if only we could get the country to follow our lead on stricter gun controls.

Fox News On June 26th, 2015, Oh How Odd It All Seems

One can only scratch one’s head when it comes to the incredulous nature of the Fox News Network. On a day as momentous, after a week as momentous as this, the O’Rielly Factor’s nightly feature is on global terror, completely ignoring today’s SCOTUS decision on same sex marriage.

Is it any wonder why or how Media Matters found that those who watch Fox News are less informed than those who don’t follow the news regularly via any format? So much for mainstream conservative media.
 
Steven J. Gulitti
 
6/26/2015

The SCOTUS Decisions Hammer Conservative Movement

The Court this week has delivered a series of devastating blows to America’s conservative movement with their second decision affirming the constitutionality of Obamacare, today’s decision on same sex marriage along with another decision on discrimination in housing.

It’s been kind of funny watching the Fox crew attempting to recover from the multiple blows sustained by conservatives this week. Conservatives have been looking with regard to upending Obamacare to additional cases wending their way through the lower courts and hoping that these cases will somehow undo what’s already been settled. Political commentator Amy Walter, appearing on Fox News last night, pointed out that many of those cases have already been dismissed and that now with a second affirmative decision on Obamacare, most of the rest will probably be dismissed too or the Court will agree not to hear them.

And conservatives shouldn’t take to much solace in the idea that Obamacare will be undone on Capitol Hill either. Let’s be honest about one reality. Conservatives on Capitol Hill have voted some 50 times to repeal the A.C.A to no avail. Their last presidential effort was based in part in undoing the A.C.A and that failed too. To date the G.O.P. has failed to come up with an comprehensive alternative to the A.C.A. Thus what will change now? Not much likely with regard to Obamacare.

With regard to same sex marriage ruling, one political commentator pointed out that the Court’s decision was based on the 14th Amendment, which addresses civil rights, and said that Supreme Court decisions based on the 14th are almost never reversed in subsequent Court decisions. Likewise lower courts will now have to fall in line with the high court’s decision. That said is there any reason to think that any reasonable Republican will sponsor legislation that seeks to undo the same sex decision?

As an aside, I can’t help but laugh at the follow on commentary on Fox this morning as that networks analysts have spent more time trying to reconcile Justice Thomas’s opinions on same sex and Obamacare then they have coming to terms with the seismic changes that have just taken place.

 

Steven J. Gulitti

 

6/26/2015

Love Wins!

My Facebook feed has lit up with news, for which I could have posted any number of links, that SCOTUS has ruled 5-4 within the hour that all states must grant licenses to all otherwise lawful couples regardless of the gender combination of said couple.  In other words, marriage equality is the law of the land.  June 26th also happens to be the anniversary of the Lawrence v. Texas and Windsor decisions, so if there were ever an officially designated LGBT Civil Rights day this should be it.  Find Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the Court here.