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Judge finds DOMA unconstitutional

taoist drunktaoist drunk Registered User regular
edited July 2010 in Debate and/or Discourse
This afternoon, DOMA was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in Massachusetts. This will go to the Court of Appeals, where it will likely be overturned, then will be appealed to SCOTUS, who will then decide whether to grant cert blah blah everyone knows how the judicial process works.

A few things about the MA case: if the decision of this federal judge is upheld by SCOTUS, then the Defense of Marriage Act, which (1) says that no state must treat a same-sex relationship as marriage and (2) says that as far as the federal government is concerned, marriage is between one man and one woman. The MA challenge to DOMA would not extend same-sex marriage rights to other states, but it would open the door to challenges from other states.

The MA case is actually called Gill v. Office of Personnel Management. Today, Judge Tauro ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional, violating the 10th Amendment:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people"
and the Due Process clause of the 5th Amendment:
"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
There is no equal protection clause in the 5th Amendment like there is in the 14th, but that all got taken care of long ago, so Tauro's reasoning is about the equal protection principles embodied in the Due Process clause. Take it up with Chief Justice Warren if that's a problem.

In my view, this is a pretty strong case, and the point of this post is: I hope it makes it to the Supreme Court before Prop 8 does.

It's a stronger case than the Prop. 8 challenge, mainly because the definition of marriage in Proposition 8 is the same as the one in DOMA. If DOMA is constitutional, then so is Proposition 8. The MA case is about the federal government involving itself in state affairs; the Proposition 8 case is not. The 10th Amendment violation isn't there, and that's important. The equal protection aspect of the case remains, and is marginally stronger because the 14th Amendment specifically has an equal protection clause, but as far as I can tell the sitting Court has no intention of overturning Bolling v. Sharpe.

There have been other challenges to DOMA that have been denied cert by the Supreme Court for the last 5 years. Hopefully Gill v. Office of Personnel Management will get there.

taoist drunk on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The Massachusetts challenge was brought by attorney general Martha Coakley. Merely one of many reasons why I was pissed off that Scott Brown won the senate seat.

    Hachface on
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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Woo!

    Yeah I hope this hits SCOTUS first.

    KalTorak on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I think it's interesting that the Prop 8 case was such a spectacle but this passed through almost under the radar.

    Hachface on
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    taoist drunktaoist drunk Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Yeah I was wondering about that too. I'm guessing it was because it was something people directly voted on rather than a court case, so there were a lot of campaigns telling people how to vote, which inevitably got media attention.

    taoist drunk on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Yeah I was wondering about that too. I'm guessing it was because it was something people directly voted on rather than a court case, so there were a lot of campaigns telling people how to vote, which inevitably got media attention.

    Also the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Prop 8 case -- Olson and Boies -- went on every media outlet they could find in the early days of the case. They really drummed up publicity. It was really quite dumb of Martha Coakley to not do the same, really.

    Hachface on
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    taoist drunktaoist drunk Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This is also worth noting: Judge Tauro doesn't even bother with trying to make the argument that gays are a suspect class:
    This court need not address these arguments [about whether strict scrutiny should apply in this case], however, because DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test. As set forth in detail below, this court is convinced that “there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship” between DOMA and a legitimate government objective.
    He also says, "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest."
    This also strengthens the case because it is highly unlikely that the Scalia wing of the Court would get on board with identifying gays as a suspect class. Plus, talking about this in terms of rational basis review doesn't have to make the argument that marriage is a fundamental right, which is a steep hill to climb anyway.

    taoist drunk on
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    lsukalellsukalel Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This is also worth noting: Judge Tauro doesn't even bother with trying to make the argument that gays are a suspect class:
    This court need not address these arguments [about whether strict scrutiny should apply in this case], however, because DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test. As set forth in detail below, this court is convinced that “there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship” between DOMA and a legitimate government objective.
    He also says, "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest."
    This also strengthens the case because it is highly unlikely that the Scalia wing of the Court would get on board with identifying gays as a suspect class. Plus, talking about this in terms of rational basis review doesn't have to make the argument that marriage is a fundamental right, which is a steep hill to climb anyway.

    Disclaimer: I am estatic about this case. I am. But after reading many Supreme Court Opinions and many written by Scalia I am not willing to say that they won't be able to find a way to rule the way they want to rule in this case.

    lsukalel on
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    TL DRTL DR Not at all confident in his reflexive opinions of thingsRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Go MA!

    ...also, am I a homophobe for being unable to read the GLAD attorney's name as anything but Beartato?

    TL DR on
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    lsukalel wrote: »
    This is also worth noting: Judge Tauro doesn't even bother with trying to make the argument that gays are a suspect class:
    This court need not address these arguments [about whether strict scrutiny should apply in this case], however, because DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test. As set forth in detail below, this court is convinced that “there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship” between DOMA and a legitimate government objective.
    He also says, "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest."
    This also strengthens the case because it is highly unlikely that the Scalia wing of the Court would get on board with identifying gays as a suspect class. Plus, talking about this in terms of rational basis review doesn't have to make the argument that marriage is a fundamental right, which is a steep hill to climb anyway.

    Disclaimer: I am estatic about this case. I am. But after reading many Supreme Court Opinions and many written by Scalia I am not willing to say that they won't be able to find a way to rule the way they want to rule in this case.

    Of course SCOTUS will find a way. The current Supreme Court's conservative wing could give two shits about the law.

    enlightenedbum on
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    Captain CarrotCaptain Carrot Alexandria, VARegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    This is also worth noting: Judge Tauro doesn't even bother with trying to make the argument that gays are a suspect class:
    This court need not address these arguments [about whether strict scrutiny should apply in this case], however, because DOMA fails to pass constitutional muster even under the highly deferential rational basis test. As set forth in detail below, this court is convinced that “there exists no fairly conceivable set of facts that could ground a rational relationship” between DOMA and a legitimate government objective.
    He also says, "irrational prejudice plainly never constitutes a legitimate government interest."
    This also strengthens the case because it is highly unlikely that the Scalia wing of the Court would get on board with identifying gays as a suspect class. Plus, talking about this in terms of rational basis review doesn't have to make the argument that marriage is a fundamental right, which is a steep hill to climb anyway.
    Loving v. Virginia, 1967, specifically states that. Though, of course, Scalia and Thomas will ignore all the actual evidence and precedents that don't agree with them because 'demned sodomites!'.

    Captain Carrot on
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    ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    There are three and a half justices who give two squirts of piss about the tenth amendment.

    Three of them aren't going to vote to legalize gay marriage.

    Thanatos on
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    themightypuckthemightypuck MontanaRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010

    Of course SCOTUS will find a way. The current Supreme Court's conservative wing could give two shits about the law.

    The "law" is something that exists beyond them during confirmation hearings. The rest of the time they are the law.

    themightypuck on
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    override367override367 ALL minions Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If I understand the current SCOTUS correctly, if it passed before them to determine if democrats were human beings or not, they would vote no, so I'm not getting my hopes up

    override367 on
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    mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Thanatos wrote: »
    There are three and a half justices who give two squirts of piss about the tenth amendment.

    Three of them aren't going to vote to legalize gay marriage.

    Right, but what are the odds that the justices that don't give two squirts of piss about the tenth amendment (particularly as it applies to the states) might be willing to fake the funk if it meant, functionally, the expansion of actual individual rights?
    My guess is "low."

    mcdermott on
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    Phoenix-DPhoenix-D Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Alternate thread title: Judge rules in favor of state's rights, GOP denounces decision.

    Phoenix-D on
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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Phoenix-D wrote: »
    Alternate thread title: Judge rules in favor of state's rights, GOP denounces decision.

    :^:

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    gtrmpgtrmp Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    Yeah I was wondering about that too. I'm guessing it was because it was something people directly voted on rather than a court case, so there were a lot of campaigns telling people how to vote, which inevitably got media attention.

    Also the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Prop 8 case -- Olson and Boies -- went on every media outlet they could find in the early days of the case. They really drummed up publicity. It was really quite dumb of Martha Coakley to not do the same, really.

    Martha Coakley fumbling an advantageous media opportunity? Unprecedented!

    gtrmp on
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    Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    gtrmp wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    Yeah I was wondering about that too. I'm guessing it was because it was something people directly voted on rather than a court case, so there were a lot of campaigns telling people how to vote, which inevitably got media attention.

    Also the plaintiffs' attorneys in the Prop 8 case -- Olson and Boies -- went on every media outlet they could find in the early days of the case. They really drummed up publicity. It was really quite dumb of Martha Coakley to not do the same, really.

    Martha Coakley fumbling an advantageous media opportunity? Unprecedented!

    lol

    Gnome-Interruptus on
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    AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    One thing to note is that this doesn't have to go to SCOTUS - there's nothing that says that the feds have to appeal, after all. And unlike Perry, I doubt there's any grounds for NOM and their ilk to step in, either.

    Also, the decision wasn't stayed, meaning that (in Mass., at least), same sex married couples can immediately assert their right to the federal privileges of marriage.

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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    One thing to note is that this doesn't have to go to SCOTUS - there's nothing that says that the feds have to appeal, after all. And unlike Perry, I doubt there's any grounds for NOM and their ilk to step in, either.

    I highly doubt the feds wouldn't appeal. They are not about to give Medicaid benefits to same-sex couples.

    Hachface on
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    The Crowing OneThe Crowing One Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I love my state.

    Which is totally cool even if I become my own state.

    The Crowing One on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    One thing to note is that this doesn't have to go to SCOTUS - there's nothing that says that the feds have to appeal, after all. And unlike Perry, I doubt there's any grounds for NOM and their ilk to step in, either.

    I highly doubt the feds wouldn't appeal. They are not about to give Medicaid benefits to same-sex couples.

    I spent quite a bit of time in the last thread bitching about how Obama isn't as fierce an advocate on gay rights as he promised he would be. Here's his chance to prove me wrong.

    Of course, if Obama CAN stop the appeal and doesn't, he won't get any gay voters ever again.

    MuddBudd on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    One thing to note is that this doesn't have to go to SCOTUS - there's nothing that says that the feds have to appeal, after all. And unlike Perry, I doubt there's any grounds for NOM and their ilk to step in, either.

    I highly doubt the feds wouldn't appeal. They are not about to give Medicaid benefits to same-sex couples.

    I spent quite a bit of time in the last thread bitching about how Obama isn't as fierce an advocate on gay rights as he promised he would be. Here's his chance to prove me wrong.

    Of course, if Obama CAN stop the appeal and doesn't, he loses his last chance of getting a gay voter again.

    Obama is probably going to leave this decision up to the Justice Department, but I can almost guarantee that the Justice Department is going to defend the status quo. It's their job.

    Hachface on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Oh also, there's a lot of buzz going around that we'll be getting the Prop 8 decisions VERY soon. Rumor was Walker was going to announce today but delayed because of the DOMA thing.

    MuddBudd on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Hachface wrote: »
    One thing to note is that this doesn't have to go to SCOTUS - there's nothing that says that the feds have to appeal, after all. And unlike Perry, I doubt there's any grounds for NOM and their ilk to step in, either.

    I highly doubt the feds wouldn't appeal. They are not about to give Medicaid benefits to same-sex couples.

    I spent quite a bit of time in the last thread bitching about how Obama isn't as fierce an advocate on gay rights as he promised he would be. Here's his chance to prove me wrong.

    Of course, if Obama CAN stop the appeal and doesn't, he loses his last chance of getting a gay voter again.

    Obama is probably going to leave this decision up to the Justice Department, but I can almost guarantee that the Justice Department is going to defend the status quo. It's their job.

    But he CAN tell them not to, correct?

    MuddBudd on
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    So It GoesSo It Goes We keep moving...Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    I'm not sure how Obama can stop an appeal of this.

    So It Goes on
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    nexuscrawlernexuscrawler Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    The SCOTUS is terrible and will fuck this up

    nexuscrawler on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    So It Goes wrote: »
    I'm not sure how Obama can stop an appeal of this.

    I may be wrong but I believe he can just direct the Justice Department to not appeal it. If he somehow can't do that someone let me know.

    Regardless, this is a man who specifically promised to work toward a DOMA repeal. Even if he has to let the Justice Dept. appeal it, if he doesn't at least comment on how he doesn't want to, he loses a ton of credibility.
    The SCOTUS is terrible and will fuck this up

    Probably. That's a bridge we'll cross when we get there.

    Also, quoting myself because it got BOTP'd
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Oh also, there's a lot of buzz going around that we'll be getting the Prop 8 decisions VERY soon. Rumor was Walker was going to announce today but delayed because of the DOMA thing.

    MuddBudd on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Officially there is a firewall between the Justice Department and the administration; the attorney general is supposed to use independent discretion in these decisions. In practice the president has a lot of power to nudge the AG, and almost certainly appoints AGs who will be pliable.

    Hachface on
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    Gnome-InterruptusGnome-Interruptus Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    But if the Feds dont appeal it, then it cant go to the SCOTUS and cant be stricken from the books as unconstitutional. Or can just the SC of Mass decision provide that?

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    So It GoesSo It Goes We keep moving...Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    But if the Feds dont appeal it, then it cant go to the SCOTUS and cant be stricken from the books as unconstitutional. Or can just the SC of Mass decision provide that?

    Other state courts aren't bound by the Massachusetts court. So in MA the federal law would be considered unconstitutional. In other states, the courts may render similar decisions. Or rule in the opposite direction. Or not rule at all. Making a sort of patchwork thing as far as whether the states considered it unconstitutional or not.

    One way or another it would make its way to SCOTUS.

    So It Goes on
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    enlightenedbumenlightenedbum Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    So It Goes wrote: »
    But if the Feds dont appeal it, then it cant go to the SCOTUS and cant be stricken from the books as unconstitutional. Or can just the SC of Mass decision provide that?

    Other state courts aren't bound by the Massachusetts court. So in MA the federal law would be considered unconstitutional. In other states, the courts may render similar decisions. Or rule in the opposite direction. Or not rule at all. Making a sort of patchwork thing as far as whether the states considered it unconstitutional or not.

    One way or another it would make its way to SCOTUS.

    Ideally not before a certain asshole dies, but yeah, it'll end up there eventually.

    enlightenedbum on
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    mythagomythago Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Oh also, there's a lot of buzz going around that we'll be getting the Prop 8 decisions VERY soon. Rumor was Walker was going to announce today but delayed because of the DOMA thing.

    Rumor is wrong and probably only got started because of the DOMA thing. The courtroom was not open today and won't be tomorrow, so there's no way he could announce a ruling.

    The nice thing about this ruling is that if you can't even pass rational basis, you have a truly shitty law.

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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    mythago wrote: »
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Oh also, there's a lot of buzz going around that we'll be getting the Prop 8 decisions VERY soon. Rumor was Walker was going to announce today but delayed because of the DOMA thing.

    Rumor is wrong and probably only got started because of the DOMA thing. The courtroom was not open today and won't be tomorrow, so there's no way he could announce a ruling.

    The nice thing about this ruling is that if you can't even pass rational basis, you have a truly shitty law.

    Possibly, I forget where I saw it mentioned but apparently Walkers schedule for July is now 'open'. That might just be because he just doesn't have any new cases immediately assigned to him though, we'll see.

    MuddBudd on
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    KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    If the Justice Dept. decided not to appeal, could one of the shitbag bigot groups come in and do it? IIRC that's sort of what happened with the Prop 8 trial - Schwarzenegger refused to have his office defend Prop 8 so NOM started waving their dicks around.

    KalTorak on
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    MuddBuddMuddBudd Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    If the Justice Dept. decided not to appeal, could one of the shitbag bigot groups come in and do it? IIRC that's sort of what happened with the Prop 8 trial - Schwarzenegger refused to have his office defend Prop 8 so NOM started waving their dicks around.

    NOM was partly responsible for the proposition. IE, they helped create it. That's why they were able to do so. DOMA is totally different in that regard.

    Also, speaking of NOM...

    http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=341122&title=no-on-infinity

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    ScalfinScalfin __BANNED USERS regular
    edited July 2010
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    So It Goes wrote: »
    I'm not sure how Obama can stop an appeal of this.

    I may be wrong but I believe he can just direct the Justice Department to not appeal it. If he somehow can't do that someone let me know.

    Regardless, this is a man who specifically promised to work toward a DOMA repeal. Even if he has to let the Justice Dept. appeal it, if he doesn't at least comment on how he doesn't want to, he loses a ton of credibility.
    The SCOTUS is terrible and will fuck this up

    Probably. That's a bridge we'll cross when we get there.

    Also, quoting myself because it got BOTP'd
    MuddBudd wrote: »
    Oh also, there's a lot of buzz going around that we'll be getting the Prop 8 decisions VERY soon. Rumor was Walker was going to announce today but delayed because of the DOMA thing.

    I don't see why he shouldn't appeal it, both from a legalistic perspective (shouldn't he, realistically, appeal everything?) and from a political perspective (it's a free attempt to repeal DOMA with none of the downsides of trying to use the senate and no losses if he loses because, as far as I can tell, this decision doesn't actually change anything in practice if it's only at the level it's currently at).

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    HamHamJHamHamJ Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Scalfin wrote: »
    I don't see why he shouldn't appeal it, both from a legalistic perspective (shouldn't he, realistically, appeal everything?)

    If you just appeal everything what's the point of even having lower courts?

    HamHamJ on
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    HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    KalTorak wrote: »
    If the Justice Dept. decided not to appeal, could one of the shitbag bigot groups come in and do it? IIRC that's sort of what happened with the Prop 8 trial - Schwarzenegger refused to have his office defend Prop 8 so NOM started waving their dicks around.

    It would be extremely difficult for any entity other than the federal government to claim standing in this case. In fact it's probably impossible.

    Hachface on
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    RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited July 2010
    Hachface wrote: »
    KalTorak wrote: »
    If the Justice Dept. decided not to appeal, could one of the shitbag bigot groups come in and do it? IIRC that's sort of what happened with the Prop 8 trial - Schwarzenegger refused to have his office defend Prop 8 so NOM started waving their dicks around.

    It would be extremely difficult for any entity other than the federal government to claim standing in this case. In fact it's probably impossible.

    Well, the only people who could appeal are the defendants anyway, so standing is pretty much beside the point.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
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