Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Watching History

There is a Chinese curse of "May you live in interesting times." The past two days have been truly amazing as far as interesting times.

It started yesterday, with the Supreme Court's gutting one of the historic civil rights  law by avoiding the problem all together by passing the law back to Congress.  No doubt the more conservative members of the court are relying on Congress to be unable to act. This includes Chief Justice Robert. He had tried to get rid of the Voting Rights Act since the 1980s and no doubt thinks that our dysfunctional Congress will be unable to refit the law despite the number of hearings and discussions they had in 2006 before the law was over-whelmingly re-approved by vote and signed by Bush.  The most conservative of the Justices, Justice Scalia wrote his belief that since Congress was wrong, the court needed to make it right.  There is virtually no mention in the decision in relationship to how the Voting Rights Act violates the Constitution.  Congress's next actions following this ruling announcing they are too inept to get it right, may get interesting.

Yet in a scathing condemnation on the majority decision, Scalia wrote that the court had no business involving itself in the legislative laws of Congress when it comes to DOMA. Today, more history was added when the court first punted the Proposition 8 law back to California saying the law had no standing with the court.  This was closely followed by the court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. This time the majority opinion actually cited the Constitution for its reason.  Still, though the High Court made Federal laws applicable only to those states that recognize same sex marriage as legal.  So what is next? Most likely for those states which don't repeal their amendments and laws,there will come in a series of law suits by persons who legally married in one state and demand that a new state they now live in recognize their union and that refusal of that state to recognize prevents them from Federal recognition. This then becomes unequal treatment under constitutional law.  This also is going to have issues for openly gays in the military as the Federal government now will recognize them as legal unions while states in which the military base exists does not.  It's going to get interesting.

And between these astonishing pieces of history, there was the amazing filibuster in the Texas senate during a special session.  Yesterday in a bid for Texas to ban abortion and close all but five women's health clinics in the state, a lone Texas senator named Wendy Davis held the floor for nearly ten hours trying to stop the passage of the bill.  It was astonishing political theatrics regardless of where anyone stands on the issue.  After having violated and very technically so, the rules of Texas filibuster which are quite strict, Senator Davis lost the floor. Then other senators began asking a series of parliamentary inquiries to keep the bill from reaching a vote.  With fifteen minutes left in the session, the spectators began to cheer, scream, and chant so loudly, that the required oral vote could not take place.  It was really amazing as I and some 160,000 plus folks watched it unfold live on YouTube.  Even more astounding was the attempt by the Republicans to announce that the vote had actually taken place before the deadline at 11:58 instead of 12:02.  It quickly became clear that with over 100k witnesses, the ploy would not work.  Three hours later the Lt. Governor of Texas, president of the senate announced that the time was wrong, and the bill had failed. Governor Perry then announced  that there would be a second special session and the law will again begin from scratch.  It will be interesting. 

It is a privilege to watch history unfold. May you live in interesting times.  Indeed.