Climate Change Progress Yet to Happen

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Continuing with the Obama administration climate change action plan rolled out only one year ago, the White House will be hosting two roundtable discussion this week on the economic threat climate change poses and how to overcome those risks according to a White House Official. The discussion will focus on the costs of not addressing planet warming emissions, according to the email sent on the 23 of June,2014 and reported by Kate Sheppard of HuffPost. In the article, White House Plans Another Big Climate Push, explains that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and White House leaders will meet with billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on Wednesday to assess the economic costs of climate change and release the report later this week entitled “Risky Business.”  Steyer, a former hedge fund manager turned environmental activist has decided to pledge $100 million to back candidate who support climate change action through his group, NextGen Climate Change. Lew, White House advisers John Podesta and Valerie Jarrett, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration head Kathryn Sullivan and Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate met on Tuesday with insurance industry representatives on climate impacts. Obama will address the issues at the League of Conversation Voters on Wednesday night, while Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell will speak earlier in the day at a League of Conservation Voters sponsored event. Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of Obama’s speech at Georgetown where he unveiled his climate action plan. The administration has made an effort to push new regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and announced initiatives to streamline government climate efforts and make climate data more widely available.

Unfortunately, on Monday June 23 of 2014, the Supreme Court placed limited on Obama plan to deal with power plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming, the Associate Press reports. In the article, Supreme Court Justices Limit Existing EPA Global Warming Rules, the justices explain that the Environmental Protection Agency does not have the authority in some cases to force companies to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions in cases where the company needs a permit to expand facilities or build new ones increasing overall pollution. The decision does not affect EPA proposals for first time national standards for new and existing plants, the Associated Press reports. The most recent proposal aims at 30 percent reduction of greenhouse gases by 2030, but won’t take effect for another two years. The ruling does protect the EPA’s existing authority over facilities that emit pollutants that the agency regulates other than greenhouse gases. Since 2011, the EPA has issued 166 permits through state and federal regulators as of late March including permits for power plants, chemical plants, cement plants, iron and steel plants, fertilizer plants, ceramics plants and ethanol plants. In addition, oil refineries and landfills have also obtained greenhouse gas permits.

Equality in America: Ding, Dong, DOMA’s Dead? Maybe…

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While the debate inside the High Court continues, things heated up outside the court and across the nation. Of course no event would be complete without the Westboro Baptist Church. The Supreme Court is considering the constitutional challenge to the Federal Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and the debate has drawn protestors for the second day in a row even members of the fringe anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church who flanked two couples with their offensive, homophobic signs but kudos to couples for not letting their hate filled rants effect their public display of affection. Bravo! The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments today on whether Congress can withhold federal benefits from legally wed gay couples by defining marriage as a man and woman. Even former President Bill Clinton has called for the Supreme Court to overturn the law he signed as he believes that the Defense of Marriage Act is incompatible with the Constitution according to the Associated Press. He signed the law in 1996 to avoid legislation that would have been worse. In a Washington Post op-ed, Clinton writes society has changed and realizes that the law discriminates against gays and provides an excuse for other to do so too. The Obama administration stopped defending it as well as the Supreme Court will be the final say on what happens to the bill as well as California’s ban on gay marriage.

As the tensions rise outside the High Court, the U.S. Supreme Court justices on Wednesday morning questioned the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as between a man and woman. and whether the decision is really up to them or not. This is the second day the High Court heard arguments with the main issue on Wednesday dealing with the United States v. Windsor and whether it was constitutional for the government not to recognize same sex marriages that have been recognized by the states. Justice Antohony Kennedy said Tuesday that children of same sex coupes “want their parents to have full recognition and legal status” had a hard time accepting that DOMA refuses to recognize those same sex unions recognized by the state according to Huff Post. Kennedy believes that DOMA does cause injury to these couples whose marriages are not recognized by the federal government but the state. Seciton 3 of DOMA, at issue on Wednesday reports Huff Post states “the word marriage means only a legal union between a man and woman as husband and wife” for the purpose of “any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States.”

The Plaintiff, Edie Windsor, 83, brought suit against the federal government after the IRS cited DOMA to deny her a refund for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes paid following the death of Thea Spyer in 2009 who was her partner for 40 years reports Huff Post. Windsor and Spyer married in 2007 in Canada and lived in New York. Windsor argues that she would have been eligible for the estate tax exemption had Spyer been a man therefore DOMA’s Section 3 violates her equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment. Two of the justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kennedy, seem to side with Windsor with Ginsburg stating that DOMA creates two types of marriages likening same sex marriage to the skim milk version of straight marriage while Kennedy struggled to determine whether or not the federal government can regulate marriage. Solicitor Genral Donald Verrilli, representing the Obama administration ont he merits of the case chose to emphasize COngress’ discriminatory purposes in 1996 stating the law “is not called Federal Uniform Definition of Marriage Act. It’s called the Defense of Marriage Act.” Justice Elena Kegan shared simliar sentiments as she told Clement, defending DOMA on behalf of the House of Representatives’ Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group, “that maybe Congress had something different in mind than uniformity” in the definition of marriage reading from the House Report which said DOMA was a reflection of Congress’ “collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”

Therefore, the key to this case may lie in whether the law singles out gays and lesbians through “heightened scrutiny” where a measure singles out politically disfavored and less powerful groups. Chief Justice Roberts along this line focused on the change in public opinion regarding gay marriage and how it happened unless gay and lesbian Americans had significant political power as it seems politicians are falling over themselves to support it. The main question on his mind was why did President Barack Obama enforce it for so long if he thought it was unconstitutional. Clement commented that 10 years from now the nine states don’t have gay marriage will be force by federal government to recognize these unions. According to Huff Post, after Wednesday’s oral arguments the case may be about whether or not the justices have the power to hear the case at all. In United States v. Windsor, the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit declared DOMA unconstitutional while the Obama administration agree Roberts asked Deputy Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, arguing for the Obama administration, whether there was any cases where all parties agreed with the decision below, but the court upheld its ability to hear it. Clement on Wednesday faced some serious questioned from the Supreme Court’s liberal wing on why the House had any legal interest in represent the position that has been abandoned by everyone involved with DOMA especially the executive branch. As Justice Stephen Breyer commented, ” How is this case any different from enforcing general powers of the United States.” The fight will continue as so many things remain uncertain.

Second Amendment Lawsuits Expose Rift At The Top Of Gun Rights Movement

Second Amendment Lawsuits Expose Rift At The Top Of Gun Rights Movement.

Well now the NRA knows the frustration people are having with gun control as the administration has to deal with the NRA so the NRA must now deal with the SAF. I hope in seeing what the SAF is doing to progress for pro-second amendment rights that the NRA will work better with the administration to finally reach some sort of gun control measure to protect and keep people safe while allowing the group to still have the right to bear arms. In world of gun right groups, Alan Gottlieb over the past fiver years has tried to expand gun rights with his Washington based nonprofit the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) building one of the most significant rulings. Gottlieb hopes to open the legal floodgates by litigating dozens of cases nationwide which to me seems more of what an ambulance chaser would do than someone trying to protect people’s right. Why make a spectacle of a very serious problem in the United States with gun violence on the rise and no end in site? The Sandy Hook shooting and a series of gun related violence has raised more concern and support in favor of gun control measures, but the ongoing conversation seems to revolve entirely around legislation even though the most significant changes are happening in the courtroom instead of Congress.

The SAF has brought several cases before the court successfully litigating most of them while simultaneously changing the way the second amendment is interpreted. One stand out of the group is Northern Virginia based Litigator, Alan Gura, who in successfully arguing District of Columbia v. Heller before the Supreme Court made it so the Second Amendment not only protects the state militia’s rights to posses a gun but the right of the individual. After the Heller victory, he teamed up with SAF to file more than 40 lawsuits including a major win with the 2010 McDonald v.Chicago case that extended the Heller decision to cover the states overturning the Windy City’s handgun ban it held for 28 years. While the NRA is its own powerhouse in the political world, many have turned their attention to the SAF’s lawsuits that could have a larger impact on the future affecting everything from conceal weapons, background checks, and the firearms industry liability if harm comes from their products. People in the gun movement world see the SAF either as a brave defender or simple as an ambulance chaser that could damage the gun right movement. Many question the SAF’s strategy because of the long term effects that legal precedents have on their movement that could potentially harm the cause if it’s an unfavorable one.

After the Heller decision, the NRA has chosen a more gradual approach to gun rights expansion. According to the Huff Post, Richard Broughton, a law professor and former Justice Department prosecutor, said, “The NRA takes on specific issues, and they’re not going for broad Second Amendment rulings. Instead, they’re asking the courts to narrowly interpret gun regulations and working to win smaller victories they can build on.” Ken Klukowski, a law professor and former NRA staffer, agrees saying, “The NRA takes the long view. They are extraordinary minds for the long ball and the big picture.” The NRA announced as of late it will be considering a lawsuit against the Illinois State Police over a backlog in gun permit applications. A NRA spokesman according to the Huff Post had this to say about the NRA’s litigation strategy that it “is designed to defend the fundamental constitutional right of our over 4.5 million members and tens of millions of supporters.”

The SAF has been far more aggressive than in the NRA about taking on cases. The cases totals for mid-February have the SAF with 18 gun rights cases pending in trial and appellate courts, while the NRA only has nine open cases. According to Huff Post, the totals are remarkable considering the SAF only has $4 million to litigate such cases versus the $243 million the NRA has to litigate. Litigation for the NRA was and still is not their main priority as they prefer to buy I mean influence and elect people with their millions of dollars at the state and federal levels without fighting it out in the court. The SAF on the other hand would rather attack gun regulations in court than prevent it from being passed all together like the NRA. The way Alan Gura tells it is that the NRA focuses on lobbying elected officials which undermines the litigation efforts of the SAF. Klukowski said that the Heller and McDonald rulings are just the beginning of decades of litigation over the scope of gun rights in American the Huff Post reported.  The next big case prediction will be to address the right to carry firearms in public which the high court has yet to rule on. This past Friday, the circuit courts reached a split decision on two cases that will likely reach the high court: the 7th Circuit declined to preserve an Illinois law barring concealed weapons while the 10th Circuit declared a concealed carry ban to be constitution. Both disputes are of course backed by the Second Amendment Foundation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birthers Suggest Impeaching Chief Justice John Roberts

Birthers Suggest Impeaching Chief Justice John Roberts.

Does this whole concept even may any sense to anyone really? The birther movement is now targeting Chief Justice John Roberts for impeachment if he swears in President Barack Obama for a second term later this month. Can you do that? Doesn’t this country have bigger socioeconomic problems than someone’s personal vendetta against the president? Hey news flash my friends he won fair and square so deal with it. Craige McMillan, a columnist for the conservative publication WND.com, is claiming that Obama violates the constitution because he is not a natural born citizen of the U.S. Wasn’t this already decided that he was? The republicans are up to their old tricks again. Let a sleeping dog lie people. He already showed his birth certificate and it was decided that he is a natural U.S. citizen. I didn’t realize crazy was on the political agenda but here it comes.