Saturday, June 29, 2013

WEEKEND

A weekend is a poor time to post any blog covering a controversial subject such as SCOTUS's two actions on same sex marriage. I am preparing a long essay on my stand and will post at least part on Monday.

Meantime enjoy the weekend if it is dry.

Friday, June 28, 2013

A LITTLE BIT OF OZMANIA


 A large item in the budget is for IT. One item we can depend upon is the  'City Site".  Yesterday I checked to see if the monthly Agenda Setting Session which is held on the first Monday of the would be on July 1, or if the Council was taking a holiday week off and if July 8 was the correct date.
I have copied this information from the site. In red is my doing.

The Agenda Fixing Sessions are held at the City Hall Library at 7:30pm. The Regular Sessions are held at the Plainfield Municipal Court at 8:00pm.
Updated February 21, 2013
All schedules are tentative and subject to Board/Commission approval.

2013 Plainfield Meeting Schedule


I now know why I have been confused at the Council's  Agenda Session.For the past six months with the exception of the June meeting which was rescheduled from a Tuesday to Wednesday and in  the City Hall Library; I have and I believe the Council members been going to a phantom meeting place, The Municipal Court Room at the Police Station . 





AFFIRMATIVE ACTION




I omitted one action from this year’s Supreme Court term.
These excerpts are from a media report by  Pete Williams and Erin McClam, NBC News . It is obvious that this is not the definitive Court statement on a touchy issue. Only public, not private, schools are affected by this law.

“The Supreme Court on Monday allowed affirmative action to survive in college admissions but imposed a tough legal standard, ruling that schools must prove there are “no workable race-neutral alternatives” to achieve diversity on campus.

While the ruling was not a sweeping pronouncement on the future of affirmative action, it amounts to a warning to colleges nationwide that the courts will treat race-conscious admissions policies with a high degree of skepticism.

By a 7-1 vote, with one justice recusing herself, the court sent a case about the University of Texas admissions policy back to a federal appeals court for review, and directed the appeals court to apply an exacting legal standard known as strict scrutiny.

The case was brought by Abigail Fisher, a white woman who applied to the university in 2008 and was denied, and claimed that her constitutional rights and federal civil rights laws were violated.

“I am grateful to the justices for moving the nation closer to the day when a student’s race isn't used at all in college admissions,” Fisher said in a statement.
The appeals court sided with the university. But the Supreme Court ruled that the lower court did not hold the university to the “demanding burden of strict scrutiny.” 

Instead, the lower court “presumed that the school had acted in good faith” and required Fisher to show otherwise, the high court found.”
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“The University of Texas admits about three-quarters of its students by guaranteeing a spot to anyone who finishes near the top of his or her high school class. When Fisher applied, the standard was the top 10 percent of the class. For the remainder of undergraduate admissions, race is considered as one of many factors.

A Supreme Court ruling in 2003 allowed public universities to consider race to get a critical mass of minority students, but Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who wrote that opinion, has since retired, and today’s court is more conservative.

On Monday, in a ruling by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the court said that the standard 
of strict scrutiny “does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without closely examining how the process works in practice.”

Instead, the burden of proof is on a university to show that “each applicant is evaluated as an individual and not in a way that makes an applicant’s race or ethnicity the defining feature of his or her application,” the court said, quoting language from the 2003 opinion.”
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“Justice Clarence Thomas, joining the majority but writing his own opinion, argued that considering race in college admissions is categorically prohibited by the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

Thomas noted that slaveholders once argued that slavery civilized blacks, and that segregationists once argued that separating students by race was good for blacks because it protected them from racist whites.

“Following in these inauspicious footsteps, the university would have us believe that its discrimination is likewise benign,” he wrote. “I think the lesson of history is clear enough: Racial discrimination is never benign.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, part of the liberal wing of the court, was the dissenter. Justice Elena Kagan, who worked on the issue while she was solicitor general under President Barack Obama, recused herself from the case.

The decision is not the court’s final word on affirmative action. It has agreed to take a case in its next term about whether voters can ban affirmative action in their states.”


Thursday, June 27, 2013

THE COURT ACTION



Wham Bam! That is the way the Supreme Court closed its 2013 session. Since the Supreme Court begins its annual session, or term, on the first Monday of October and the term lasts until the Court has announced its decisions in all of the cases in which it has heard argument that term—usually late June or early July it sits for 9 months each year..


This year the Court has made several decisions that will have important decisions that will have a major impact on political and social life.  The major ones are:




  1. 1.  Made it harder to win  Workers Bias Cases by two decisions; one raised the bar needed on proof for harassment  by a supervisor with a stricter definition of supervisor, the other on religious discrimination causing  the plaintiff not getting a job. These were filed under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which forbids discrimination based on sex, race, color, national origin, and religion.

  1. 2.  Exempted generic drug manufactures from claims arising from problems due to the drug. I would presume this means bad effects that were not known when the generic manufacture began producing the drug.

  1. 3.  Ruled 5:4 that the oversight of States as required in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was no longer constitutional based on the changed conditions today. The law had specifically required 9 states to get Federal approval before changes could be made in its election laws. Although mentioned in the named states are such actions as “voter identification” and ‘racial/religious district determinations” the provisions were applicable to all political entities.

  1. 4.  Ruling 5:4that the federal Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional as a violation of the Vth Amendment. This will make gay couples married in the 13 States that make it legal eligible for the same Social Security and Tax benefits as other married Couples. I would presume that in those States that do not recognize gay couple marriage as legal, that their Federal rights would stand but they would not qualify for state marriage benefits. There is a consensus that this action will impact on state’s bans on same sex marriage.
  1. 5. In the case of California’s Proposition 8 which banned same sex marriages the Court 5:4 upheld on technical grounds a lower Court’s decision that the law was unconstitutional


This is a review of the Court’s actions. The two that impact on “gay couples” are undoubtedly the ones of greatest local interest.

Unquestionable any comments either pro or con that I post will anger someone.


I can find no fault with either decision. The action on California’s Proposition 8 was decided on purely technically grounds; not on the issue if same sex marriage was a civil or religious issue.


The declaration that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional will raise other issues as I noted; will the Federal Marital rights be valid for couples who have married where it was legal and then moved to a state where it has been prohibited? Is the prohibition by specific law or by not being permitted? I wish I was a lawyer.
 
I may address this issue as a philosophical one in an upcoming blog.