Supreme Court Skirts Same-Sex Marriage Cases
Weekly summary of world news
Norm Olson December 4, 2012
The Supreme Court took no action Monday on historic cases involving same-sex marriage, reports thehill.com. The court did not say whether it will hear a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act—the federal law that defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The court had discussed the pending DOMA cases (there are several) at its private conference last Friday, raising the possibility that the justices could have announced a decision Monday. The court is widely expected to hear a DOMA challenge this term, and legal experts say it’s one of the biggest civil rights cases in decades. If the court overturns DOMA, all marriages would be equal in the eyes of the federal government. If the justices take a challenge to DOMA, oral arguments are expected in the spring, and a decision will likely come at the end of the current term—sometime around the end of June.
- The 66-acre former home of Woodmont Academy, a Catholic school in Cooksville, Md., is in the process of being purchased by a Muslim group to build an educational center from kindergarten through college, reports politicaloutcast.com. The goal is to have a long-term national impact: “We have to look at our community’s growth in terms of the next 50 years to 100 years, not just 10 or 20 years down the road. This is an investment in the future of the community, for the Muslims who are here long after we are gone.” The Muslim Link describes the educational center as “the “Largest Islamic Project in America.” The report notes that “Muslims understand that to put their children in a government school would mean that a large percentage of them would be lost to their Islamic ideals. In order to reshape America and make it Islamic, the process of Islamization must begin with the children. Year after year more Islamic-trained young people will make their way into American society and begin to take over the centers of power. We’re already seeing it in politics. Presently, there are two Muslims in Congress.”
- In Nevada, a pair of lesbians filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Their lawsuit claimed that the marriage amendment was discriminatory against homosexuals who wanted to marry someone of the same sex. The lawsuit was heard by Judge Robert C. Jones, Chief Judge of the US District Court for the District of Nevada, reports politicaloutcast.com. Judge Jones, a Las Vegas native, was appointed to the court in 2003 by President George W. Bush. Judge Jones’s decision was rendered just a few days after hearing arguments, which surprised many involved, since most decisions take weeks and even months. Yet Jones managed to put together a 41-page decision in which he ruled against the lesbian couple’s claim of discrimination. In denying their claim, Jones explained that the lesbians were not being discriminated against by the amendment, but they were just required to abide by the same laws and criteria as everyone else. The report noted in contrast that in “the last couple of years, we have seen one judge after another cave in to the demands and lawsuits of gay activists and rule against traditional marriage. Homosexuals, in one court case after another, are given not equal, but privileged rights over those given to the rest of the population.”
- Grover Norquist, the founder of Americans for Tax Reform, predicted a tea party backlash that would dwarf the movement’s success in the 2010 midterm elections if President Barack Obama pushes the nation over the “fiscal cliff,” reports newmax.com. “Tea Party two is going to dwarf tea party one if Obama pushes us off the cliff,” warned Norquist on NBC’s Meet The Press. The anti-tax movement leader has become a central figure in negotiations between Republicans and Democrats, with some congressional Republicans signaling a willingness to violate his no-new-taxes pledge to avert the cliff. But Norquist said he believes televising the negotiations would prevent tax increases from being part of any deal. “If people watch this on C-SPAN, then you won’t have higher taxes,” he said. “This is a massive collection of spending increases and tax increases,” Norquist said of the proposal presented to Congress by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner last week. “Republicans want to continue the Bush tax cuts, and the extenders and the AMT [Alternative Minimum Tax] package . . . it’s the president who’s threatening to raise taxes if he stamps his feet and doesn’t get his way,” he said. In one of his appearances on Sunday talk shows, Geithner made a hard stand about increasing tax rates on high income-earners and small-business owners, insisting that there is to be no deal without rates rising, reports cowboybyte.com. But the Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the fiscal cliff projected that up to 300,000 jobs could be lost over the next two years if top tax rates were to rise. The Congressional Budget Office’s analysis of the fiscal cliff strongly advised against tax rate hikes and recommended that the best way to raise tax revenue is through deduction reform, not through rate hikes. Meanwhile, minutemannews.com notes it is “amazing how a reelection can reshape an incumbent’s thinking about many things. Now safely ensconced in the White House for 49 more months, the Obamas have decorated the place with 54 Christmas trees this year. Even allowing for the usual Washington excesses with taxpayer money, that’s a whole grove of Christmas trees.”
- Barack Obama continues to release important information and executive orders late on Friday afternoons or around the time of holidays so that they are not as noticed by the public, or at least don’t get the media attention they should, charges a report in freedomoutpost.com. Just prior to Thanksgiving, the White House published a memo from Barack Obama, in which he lays out guidelines for executive agencies to establish effective “insider threat programs.” While the memo seems to try and target “potential espionage, violent against the government and unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” it does not distinguish between those things and legitimate whistleblowers who are letting the American people know about corruption within the government. The Obama administration, charged the report, has been tougher on legitimate whistleblowers than any other previous administration.
- The city attorney of San Bernardino, Calif., is under scrutiny for telling residents to “lock their doors and load their guns” during a city council meeting, reports conservativevideos.com. The official explained that because the city is bankrupt and slashing public safety budgets people will need to start protecting themselves. City Attorney Jim Penman said he doesn’t regret what he said. “You should say what you mean and mean what you say,” Penman said.
- When social workers visited a UK couple and discovered that they were affiliated with a conservative political party known as UKIP, they called the couple racist and declared that they were unsuitable caregivers because of their political views. The three foster children, all under the age of 10, were immediately removed from the home, reports lastresistance.com. United Kingdom Independence Party is a libertarian party that is pushing for the UK to withdraw from the European Union before they are destroyed by it. UKIP also wants to see a five year freeze on immigration for seeking permanent residence in the country. They also want to regulate and reduce the access to welfare benefits to new immigrants. Because of these anti-immigration views, opponents claim that UKIP is anti-multiculturalism. The report warned, “The US almost always follows the patterns set in Great Britain, and this could well happen here any day, if it hasn’t already.”
- Obamacare was sold as legislation that would make health insurance, and health care, more affordable and easier to get. Unfortunately, the exact opposite is proving to be true, with health insurance and health care costs going through the roof. Employers, like Walmart, are looking at avoiding the law’s costly mandates by dropping health insurance for previously covered employees, reports minutemennews.com. Walmart, the nation’s largest private employer, plans to begin denying health insurance to newly hired employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week, according to a copy of the company’s policy obtained by The Huffington Post. Under the policy, slated to take effect in January, Walmart also reserves the right to eliminate health care coverage for certain workers if their average workweek dips below 30 hours—something that happens with regularity and at the direction of company managers. Walmart declined to disclose how many of its roughly 1.4 million U.S. workers are vulnerable to losing medical insurance under its new policy.
- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off world condemnation of Israel’s plans to expand Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto U.N. recognition of statehood, reports worthynews.com. “We will carry on building in Jerusalem and in all the places that are on the map of Israel’s strategic interests,” Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting. In another blow to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Israel announced it was withholding Palestinian tax revenues this month worth about $100 million. Israel said the reason for the move was a Palestinian debt of $200 million to the Israeli Electric Corporation, an obligation that has existed for some time. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz cautioned last month that if the Palestinians went ahead with the U.N. bid Israel would “not collect taxes for them and we will not transfer their revenues.”
- For America’s Amish, much is changing, says a report by The Christian Science Monitor on news.yahoo.com. The Amish are the fastest-growing faith community in the US. Yet as their numbers grow, the land available to support the agrarian lifestyle that underpins their faith is shrinking, gobbled up by the encroachment of exurban mansions and their multidoor garages. The result is, in some ways, a gradual redefinition of what it means to be Amish. Some in the younger generation are looking for new ways to make a living on smaller and smaller slices of land. Others are looking beyond the Amish heartland of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, seeking more space in states such as Texas, Maine, and Montana. In Ohio’s Amish country, centered in Holmes County about 80 miles south of Cleveland, these forces are reshaping a region where 42 percent of residents are Amish—the highest percentage of any part of the US. Amid these changes, Amish here are struggling to maintain the traditions they hold dear: establishing core values within the family through manual labor close to home. The American Amish population has boomed during the past few decades. A study released this summer by Ohio State University in Columbus found that the Amish are growing faster than any other faith-based group in the U.S., with 60 percent of all Amish settlements in the U.S. founded since 1990. According to the study, there are 456 settlements in the U.S. and Canada—a number forecast to reach 1,000 by 2050. Likewise, the U.S. Amish population—now at 251,000—is estimated to grow to more than a million by 2050, the researchers add. The most apparent reason for such rapid growth, experts say, is that Amish birthrates are high and the community emphasizes keeping children in the faith. About 90 percent of Amish children keep their family traditions intact, though many may temporarily stray as teens and young adults, says David Weaver-Zercher, a religion professor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pa.