Wednesday, February 22, 2012

BREAKING: Bush Appointee Finds DOMA Unconstitutional

BREAKING: Bush Appointee Finds DOMA Unconstitutional:

Moments ago, Judge Jeffery White of the District Court for the Northern District of California ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause in a case brought by Karen Golinski. Golinski, represented by Lambda Legal, “was denied spousal health benefits by her employer, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.” White was appointed to the court by President George W. Bush in 2002. The decision represents a serious setback for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whose Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) defended DOMA after the Obama administration announced it would no longer defend the law. Read the full opinion here. (HT: GinnyLaRoe)


The Court has ruled that considerations of discrimination against people based on sexual orientation should be held to heightened scrutiny for all four factors that determine such scrutiny:

HISTORY OF DISCRIMINATION: The first factor courts consider is whether the class has suffered a history of discrimination. There is no dispute in the record that lesbians and gay men have experienced a long history of discrimination.

ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO SOCIETY: Similarly, there is no dispute in the record or the law that sexual orientation has no relevance to a person’s ability to contribute to society.

IMMUTABILITY: Regardless of the evidence that a tiny percentage of gay men or lesbians may experience some flexibility along the continuum of their sexuality or the scientific consensus that sexual orientation is unchangeable, the Court finds persuasive the holding in the Ninth Circuit that sexual orientation is recognized as a defining and immutable characteristic because it is so fundamental to one’s identity.

POLITICAL POWERLESSNESS: The Court finds that the unequivocal evidence demonstrates that, although not completely politically powerless, the gay and lesbian community lacks meaningful political power… Although this factor is not an absolute prerequisite for heightened scrutiny, the Court finds the evidence and the law support the conclusion that gay men and lesbians remain a politically vulnerable minority.


The Court rebuked Congress for BLAG’s argument that caution should be taken with issues that can be socially divisive:

Here, too, this Court finds that Congress cannot, like an ostrich, merely bury its head in the sand and wait for danger to pass, especially at the risk of permitting continued constitutional injury upon legally married couples. The fact that the issue is socially divisive does nothing to relieve the judiciary of its obligation to examine the constitutionality of the discriminating classifications in the law.

Bought By Big Oil, House GOP Vote Against Keeping Keystone XL Oil In America

Bought By Big Oil, House GOP Vote Against Keeping Keystone XL Oil In America:

When the House of Representatives voted on a transportation bill, H.R. 3408, that expands oil drilling into long-protected areas and forces construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, Republican lawmakers proved their complete allegiance is to Big Oil. Although Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner have parroted the myth that the pipeline would “lower gas prices” and “reduce our dependence on hostile, unstable sources of energy,” their actions show that helping American families is only an empty promise.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) offered an amendment to the bill during the Feb. 15 vote, giving the House a chance to “ensure that if the Keystone XL pipeline is built, the oil that it transports to the Gulf of Mexico and the fuels made from that oil remain in this country to benefit Americans.” But the amendment failed 173-254.

Not surprisingly, the 254 members who voted against the amendment have collected seven times more total campaign cash from oil and gas interests. The 254 members (230 Republicans) took in $37.3 million in career campaign contributions from oil and gas companies and executives.

On average, each member who voted against banning exports collected $146,808 from the oil and gas industry. This is contrasted with the $5.2 million total for the 173 in favor (9 Republicans) of the export ban – or an average of $29,951. In other words, legislators who want to export refined gasoline and diesel from oil sands received five times more oil money than the legislators who want to keep these fuels here.

254 votes to reject amendment (230 Republicans)173 votes for amendment

(9 Republicans)
Total oil & gas money in career contributions$37,289,233$146,808
Average oil & gas money per vote$5,181,599$29,951

* Data from the Center for Responsive Politics at

The vote shows that House Republicans will not even support their own spin about the supposed benefits of increasing U.S. oil and gasoline supplies from the Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, the pipeline does nothing to impact production and Time magazine concurred that “Keystone would have little immediate [price] effect, especially since there’s already sufficient pipeline infrastructure in place for the next few years.” At best, gasoline prices in the Gulf Coast region would be only one and three-quarter cents lower per gallon, while prices would increase in the Midwest because the current oil glut keeps prices there lower.

Although the evidence shows the pipeline won’t help Americans, Republicans continue to fight to boost Big Oil’s profits at the same time the industry raked in record-breaking profits of $137 billion in 2011.


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