Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What she said

Dalia Lathwick has an awesome article regarding the oral arguments in Safford School v. Redding, the "let's strip-search a 13-year-old girl, 'cause another 13-year-old we just caught with contraband said she might have ibuprofen" case. Apparently the old dudes on the bench have completely forgotten what it's like to be in junior high, with Justice Breyer saying stuff like "I'm trying to work out why is this a major thing to say strip down to your underclothes, which children do when they change for gym, they do fairly frequently, not to -- you know, and there are only two women there. Is -- how bad is this, underclothes? That's what I'm trying to get at. I'm asking because I don't know." (p 45). Clue to the clueless: it's bad. Really bad. I'd've dropped out of school over it at that age (which apparently Ms. Redding did).

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mind Your Own F*cking Business

So here's the scenario: Not a day passes from the decision in Varnum v. O'Brien before I'm getting emails from relatives in other states urging me to write my legislators in support of an amendment to block gay marriage. Annoying, but not unexpected. Thing is, this email contained a link to a site designed to send an email for you. How handy. (Insert sarcasm here). Here's the text pulled from the site:

Iowa Marriage Amendment

Following the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling Iowa marriage laws unconstitutional, the only recourse is for the legislature to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to be voted on by all Iowans.

We've identified key Iowa House members who need to be reminded that marriage belongs to all Iowans -- not just 7 judges in black robes.

Please use the form below to send these legislators an email urging them to vote yes on the motion to bring HJR 6 to a floor vote before the session ends on May 1st.

Then urge friends and family in Iowa to send a message, too!

Shomshor, Paul (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 100 , IA
Steckman, Sharon (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 013 , IA
Kuhn, Mark (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 014 , IA
Quirk, Brian (Democrat) - Assistant Minority Leader , Iowa House District 015 , IA
Beard, John (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 016 , IA
Kelley, Doris (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 020 , IA
Burt, Kerry (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 021 , IA
Berry, Deborah (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 022 , IA
Ficken, Gene (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 023 , IA
Thomas, Roger (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 024 , IA
Bukta, Polly (Democrat) - Speaker Pro Tempore of the House , Iowa House District 026 , IA
Murphy, Patrick (Democrat) - Speaker of the House , Iowa House District 028 , IA
Zirkelbach, Ray (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 031 , IA
Bell, Paul (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 041 , IA
Huser, Geri (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 042 , IA
Smith, Mark (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 043 , IA
Heddens, Lisa (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 046 , IA
Miller, Helen (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 049 , IA
Petersen, Janet (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 064 , IA
Ford, Wayne (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 065 , IA
Abdul-Samad, Ako (Democrat) - House Assistant Majority Leader , Iowa House District 066 , IA
McCarthy, Kevin (Democrat) - House Majority Leader , Iowa House District 067 , IA
Frevert, Marcella (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 007 , IA
Mascher, Mary (Democrat) - Minority Whip , Iowa House District 077 , IA
Mertz, Dolores (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 008 , IA
Reichert, Nathan (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 080 , IA
Thede, Phyllis (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 081 , IA
Gayman, Elesha (Democrat) - House Assistant Majority Leader , Iowa House District 084 , IA
Marek, Larry (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 089 , IA
Bailey, McKinley (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 009 , IA
Whitaker, John (Democrat) - House Assistant Majority Leader , Iowa House District 090 , IA
Swaim, Kurt (Democrat) - Representative , Iowa House District 094 , IA
Reasoner, Michael (Democrat) - House Assistant Majority Leader , Iowa House District 095 , IA

Dear (name):

I am writing to urge your support for HJR 6, the constitutional amendment on marriage. Specifically, I am urging you to vote yes on the amendment to bring HJR 6 to a floor vote before the end of this year's legislative session.

The recent decision from the Iowa Supreme Court makes one thing crystal clear: We can't leave marriage in the hands of 7 judges. It's time that the people of Iowa had a chance to have a say in the matter of defining our most basic social structure.

There is no doubt about the views of Iowans on the matter. In a recent Hawkeye Poll, fewer than 30% of Iowa voters supported same-sex marriage.

In 30 out of 30 states where voters have had a chance to vote on marriage, they have spoken loudly and clearly: Marriage is the union of a husband and wife.

Marriage is too important to leave in the hands of a few judges. Please support a constitutional amendment to protect marriage -- and bring it to the floor for a vote yet this year so we can get the process started

You will receive an email confirming that your message was sent. Check the box if you would also like to receive a copy of this letter.

Thing is, all my out-of-state relatives have already gone to the site, clicked on the "send message" button and sent this email to their (?) Iowa legislators. The Connecticut branch, the California branch, the North Carolina contingent, the Illinoisians, they've all contacted Iowa legislators (but only the Democrats - interesting) to tell them what Iowans think. Really?

May I politely say that it none of the rest of the nation's d*mn business what the Iowa constitution states on this issue? Yeah, I know, you have laws recognizing other state's marriages. So, theoretically, Iowa's recognition of gay marriage could backdoor it (pun not necessarily intended) into your state. So write your own fracking legislators and get those laws changed. Keep out of our business.

Many papers are predicting a mass invasion of these carpetbagging meddlers who know so much better than we do what our law should be. Frankly, I'm not incredibly worried. Iowans have always had a large dose of "get the f*ck out of my face" when being told what we should do. I'm not certain where the majority of Iowans will fall on this issue - polls seem to indicate that most favor some sort of civil union, but I'm not sure if "civil marriage" is too divisive a term (the opinion explicitly protects the right of religious institutions not to perform a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples on the grounds of religious freedom). Regardless, it will be Iowans who decide the issue, not some Mormon enclave from Utah. And while I'm sure most Iowans will be far more polite than I in saying to the rest of the country "Mind your own f*cking business," that's what nearly of them will be thinking.

From the Iowa Courts website -
News Release

April 7, 2009


Steve Davis, Court Communications Officer, (515) 725-8058

Varnum v. Brien: Effective Date of Decision

Des Moines, April 7, 2009— Under the Iowa Court Rules, a decision of the supreme court takes effect on the date the court issues procedendo, which normally occurs twenty-one days after an opinion is filed, unless a petition for rehearing has been filed. In the case of Varnum v. Brien, the twenty-one day period ends on April 24—a day that all court offices are closed because of budget cuts. Consequently, unless a petition for rehearing is filed in this case, the court will likely issue procedendo on Monday, April 27.

Iowa Supreme Court
1111 East Court Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50319

From the Gazette this morning:
Your View poll results for April 8

We asked today: Do you think the Iowa Legislature should debate a constitutional amendment on same-sex marriage this session?

Here's what you said:

YES: 39.2 percent
NO: 60.8 percent

No. of votes: 896

Caveats: It's not exactly a high volume poll. They should've publicized a little better, I hadn't heard of it. With such a small sample size, I don't think it can be considered scientifically accurate even setting aside the bias involved with having participants contact the pollster instead of vice versa. However, I do think it's worth noting.

From the Gazette this morning:
Your View poll results for April 11

We asked today: Do you think Iowa legislators should allow voters to decide whether to amend the state Constitution regarding the right to same-sex marriage?

Here's what you said:

YES: 58.2 percent
NO: 41.8 percent

No. of votes: 471

Slightly different question, much smaller sample size, different slant. It'll be interesting to watch this all develop.

Friday, April 03, 2009

For anyone shocked by the idea Iowa could possibly be progressive:

In the first reported case of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Iowa, In re Ralph, 1 Morris 1 (Iowa 1839), we refused to treat a human being as property to enforce a contract for slavery and held our laws must extend equal protection to persons of all races and conditions. 1 Morris at 9. This decision was seventeen years before the United States Supreme Court infamously decided Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 15 L. Ed. 691 (1856), which upheld the rights of a slave owner to treat a person as property. Similarly, in Clark v. Board of Directors, 24 Iowa 266 (1868), and Coger v. North West. Union Packet Co., 37 Iowa 145 (1873), we struck blows to the concept of segregation long before the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873 (1954). Iowa was also the first state in the nation to admit a woman to the practice of law, doing so in 1869. Admission of Women to the Bar, 1 Chicago Law Times 76, 76 (1887). Her admission occurred three years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the State of Illinois’ decision to deny women admission to the practice of law, see Bradwell v. Illinois, 83 U.S. (16 Wall.) 130, 139, 21 L. Ed. 442, 445 (1873), and twentyfive years before the United States Supreme Court affirmed the refusal of the Commonwealth of Virginia to admit women into the practice of law, see Ex parte Lockwood, 154 U.S. 116, 118, 14 S. Ct. 1082, 1083, 38 L. Ed. 929, 930 (1894).

From p. 17 of today's opinion in Varnum v. O'Brien (.pdf file).

Gay Marriage A Non-Issue?

The story barely ranks the top ten in CNN, and is ranked lower than "Villagers chase away Google car." There's a thesis in that somewhere.

Varnum v. Brien

The Supreme Court website is finally operational, albeit slow.
Also, Scribd has a copy:
Iowa Supreme Court Ruling legalizing gay marriage in Iowa Iowa Supreme Court Ruling legalizing gay marriage in Iowa GazetteOnline

So now the only question is whether procedendo (I translate it in my brain as "an order to proceed as indicated") issues - the last sentence of the opinion states "Our decision becomes effective upon issuance of procedendo." The footnote in the opinion refers to Iowa Rule of Appellate Procedure 6.1208 (stating procedendo shall issue twenty-one days after the opinion is filed unless a petition for rehearing is filed). For any geeks who want to know how to track this: you can search case status at the Iowa Courts Online Search. Click on appellate search and type in "Varnum" or "O'Brien" in the party name, or Docket number 07-1499. Once you get into the case, if you click on "Docket" you'll see a list of what's been filed in the case. A filing of a petition for rehearing is likely, you'll see it there once it's been filed, and any subsequent filings (granting of the petition for rehearing, or denial and procedendo issuing are two possibilities).


So the Supreme Court is supposed to publish the gay marriage opinion this morning by 8:30. It's twenty minutes later and the site is still not loading? Come on, people. Download the .pdf and move on so others can read.

The Gazette says gay marriage is now legal in Iowa, but I can't get at the opinion to find out what it says.