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Question and Answer Regarding Historic Supreme Court Gay Marriage Cases

Oh how I’ve been avoiding this issue. Maybe it’s because it’s so controversial. Or maybe it’s because it’s truly not going to affect me one way or the other. I personally do not care what other people do behind closed doors, but should it be a public issue? In my mind, it’s not natural. Humans were designed to reproduce, so any relationship in which reproduction is not possible, I see as unnatural. What’s next? Being able to marry your pet?

Ok, maybe I do have a tiny opinion on the matter. Although up until this post, I have been keeping it to myself. In reality though, I am not, and will not lose any sleep over the issue no matter what direction things go.

 

Thanks to Greg Stohr, the author of the article below. This is a great post on the technical issues that are currently unfolding.  Here’s the original article: http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/03/how-historic-supreme-court-gay-marriage-case-will-unfold-qa/ (Which I have included at the end of my post as well).

How historic Supreme Court gay-marriage case will unfold: Q&A

 The U.S. Supreme Court takes up what is probably its biggest civil-rights dispute in decades this week when it hears arguments that could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide.

Exactly a year after the justices began hearing arguments on President Barack Obama’s health-care law, they will consider today and tomorrow two cases whose legal, political and practical stakes may prove almost as great. The high court has never before heard arguments on gay marriage.

Below are answers to questions about how the cases will unfold over the next three months:

What are the two cases?

One concerns the right to same-sex marriage itself while the second involves the federal benefits available to legally married gay couples.

The first centers on California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state. The initiative effectively overturned a decision by the California Supreme Court, which had ruled five months earlier that the state’s constitution required recognition of same-sex nuptials. Two couples seeking to marry are challenging the law.

The second case concerns the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 federal law that defined marriage as a heterosexual union. Under the law, gay spouses can’t claim the federal benefits available to other married couples, including the rights to file a joint tax return and receive Social Security survivor benefits. DOMA, as the law is known, is being challenged by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old New York resident fighting a $363,000 federal estate tax bill imposed after the 2009 death of her spouse.

What are the major legal issues?

In each case, the central question is whether the law violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. Depending on how the court approaches the cases, reaching the answer may involve several steps. An important preliminary question is whether laws discriminating against gays should be given “heightened scrutiny,” a stricter standard that judges already use in cases involving race or gender discrimination. Should the court invoke heightened scrutiny, it almost certainly will strike down both laws.

Opponents of Proposition 8 are also making arguments based on the Constitution’s due process clause, which the court has previously said makes marriage a “fundamental right.” In addition, the court will grapple with procedural questions about its power to resolve the two cases at all.

What are the possible outcomes?

In the Proposition 8 case, there is a spectrum of choices for the court. At one end, it could uphold the ballot initiative, reversing the decision of a federal appeals court. That would mean no gay marriage in California, though the state’s voters could go back to the polls and repeal the initiative. Gay marriage would remain a state-by-state issue.

Alternatively, the Supreme Court could allow gay marriage in California, without affecting the rest of the country, by adopting the appeals court’s reasoning. That court said states can’t strip gays of the opportunity to marry once they possess the right, as they did in California for the five months before Proposition 8 was approved.

A more far-reaching option — one suggested by the Obama administration — would be to say that states can’t deny the “marriage” label while letting gay couples form civil unions with all the rights and responsibilities of heterosexual spouses. Such a ruling would apply to nine states — California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Colorado.

Finally, the court could go big and declare gay marriage to be a constitutional right across the country.

How about with DOMA?

The options with DOMA look to be more straightforward. Assuming the case doesn’t get sidetracked by a procedural issue, the court in all likelihood will simply say whether the law is constitutional. There is no real middle ground.

Could we get a split decision?

Absolutely. Although the cases do have a common issue –whether to apply heightened scrutiny — they otherwise present distinct legal questions.

One plausible outcome would be for the court to strike down DOMA and uphold Proposition 8. The court — or at least the justices in its center — could reason that, while Congress had no rational reason to deny benefits to legally married gay couples, states can justify reserving marriage itself to heterosexuals.

Such a ruling would be a victory for federalism, leaving the issue of gay marriage entirely in the hands of the states.

Who are the justices to watch?

As is often the case, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s vote looms large. Kennedy has championed gay rights before, most recently writing the 2003 decision that said states can’t criminalize gay sex acts. Overturning the convictions of two men in Texas, he wrote that “the state cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime.” Even so, Kennedy made clear he wasn’t passing judgment on gay marriage.

Several other justices are potentially pivotal as well. Gay-rights supporters are looking at Chief Justice John Roberts, who cast the deciding vote to uphold Obama’s health-care law last year. Like several of his colleagues, Roberts has never ruled on gay rights. As chief justice, he may wish to write the court’s lead opinion, whatever it says.

Among the court’s four Democratic appointees, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last year raised questions about how far she would go in backing gay marriage. Speaking at Columbia Law School, she said the court “moved too far too fast” when it made abortion legal nationwide in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.

Who’s on which side?

With some notable exceptions, the case stacks up as a partisan clash, with Democrats including Obama backing gay marriage and Republicans led by House Speaker John Boehner opposed.

Exceptions include Theodore Olson, the Republican former U.S. solicitor general who is leading the legal challenge to Proposition 8. More than 100 prominent Republicans, most now out of office, also signed a brief opposing Proposition 8.

The gay-marriage side also has support from corporations, including Apple Inc., Morgan Stanley and Facebook Inc.

So what are the procedural issues?

In both cases, the justices asked the parties to submit arguments about the legal power of the court to rule. Depending how the court resolves those issues, one or both cases could be derailed.

With Proposition 8, the issue stems from the 2008 decision by then-Attorney General Jerry Brown, now the state’s governor, not to defend the measure in court. That prompted the official sponsors of the initiative, led by former state Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, to take up the defense.

The issue is whether Hollingsworth had legal “standing” to appeal after U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared the law unconstitutional. Should the Supreme Court conclude Hollingsworth didn’t, its ruling would reinstate Walker’s decision.

The question then would become how broadly Walker’s ruling would apply. The group challenging the law says it would extend statewide, meaning gay marriage would be reinstated in California. Backers of Proposition 8 say the decision would apply at most to the two couples who sued to challenge the measure. The Supreme Court probably wouldn’t answer that question itself and instead would kick the case back down to a lower court for an answer.

And what is the procedural question with DOMA?

The issues with DOMA are similar, though not identical. The Obama administration argues that the law is unconstitutional, even while saying it’s obliged to continue enforcing it. Congressional Republicans are spearheading the defense.

The court will look at two closely related questions. The first is whether the Constitution gives the court power to decide the case, given that the plaintiff and defendant — that is, Windsor and the federal government — agree on the proper outcome. The court also will consider whether the congressional leaders have standing to press their own appeal.

Should the court conclude it lacks power to rule, the status of DOMA might be left in legal doubt for years.

What’s the state of public opinion?

Support for gay marriage has soared in recent years. A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that 49 percent of adults supported legalization, with 44 percent opposed. Ten years earlier a Pew poll found only 33 in support, with 58 percent opposed. The latest poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.0 percentage points.

Californians back gay marriage by almost 2-1, with 61 percent supporting it and 32 percent opposed, according to a Field Poll released last month. That survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Any chance of television coverage?

No. As is its practice, the court won’t allow television cameras into its courtroom. The justices, however, are planning to release audio recordings of the arguments the same day they are heard.

When will the court rule?

As with health care last year, the ruling almost certainly will come at the end of the court’s term. The last week of June looks to be historic one way or another.

The cases are United States v. Windsor, 12-307, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, 12-144.

 

Original Article: Greg Stohr, How historic Supreme Court gay-marriage case will unfold: Q&A, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 25, 2013, 11:09 PM)

http://www.scotusblog.com/2013/03/how-historic-supreme-court-gay-marriage-case-will-unfold-qa/

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You’re Getting Pulled Over – Now What?

 

No matter how you live your life, you are bound to have a run-in with the police at one time or another. When we encounter law enforcement, we often feel intimidated even when we have broken no laws. Perhaps it is from watching too many crime shows that have portrayed an innocent person being falsely accused and ending up in prison. I am here to give you the tools to protect yourself should you find yourself in a situation as minor as being pulled over for speeding to being questioned as part of a serious investigation.

As a citizen of the United States of America – You Have Rights

Everyone has either witnessed an arrest in a movie or tv shows where some is getting arrested. Many of us, have seen it up close and personal. As he’s making the arrest, the officer begins his dialogue (officially referred to as Miranda Rights), with “You Have the Right to Remain Silent.” This is the big one that tends to get overlooked in the moment of emotion-stricken panic. Remember, being silent cannot be held against you in a court of law. If you do decide to talk, ANYTHING you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Many of your are thinking, “I’m 100% innocent, why shouldn’t I defend myself?” That makes sense on the surface, but there have been many people who have ended up in jail or prison due to grave injustices in the judicial system. Don’t believe me? Do some Google searches and you’ll be shocked and appalled at what you find.

You’re Getting Pulled Over – Think Fast and Stay Calm

Out of nowhere you see flashing blue lights in your rear-view mirror. First of all, slow down, and take a deep breath, and turn your blinker on. Nothing screams “I have something to hide” like acting nervous.

Veer slightly to the right towards the side of the road or shoulder depending on your situation. Keep your hands in plain-sight. If the stop occurs when it’s dark outside, turn on your interior lights. Try to keep your drivers license, registration, and insurance card above your visor or somewhere that’s easily accessible so you’re not digging in your glove box, creating a reason for the officer to become nervous.

Upon approaching your vehicle, stay calm and courteous. Keep a smile on your face to put the officer at ease. Do not complain or hurl insults; that will never get you anywhere. Keep your emotions in check, and think before you speak.

Always keep your hands in plain-sight. Never make any sudden movements towards the officer, and definitely don’t put your hands on him/her under any circumstances, and I think it goes without saying, never, ever run. Whether it be on foot or in your vehicle.

Keep Your Mouth Shut!

Now that you’re both relaxed–or as relaxed as can be given the circumstances–he’s going to ask for your name, birthday, and possibly your social security number. Shortly thereafter she will most likely ask for your license/registration/insurance. This is all that you are required to answer. In some states, you’re not even required to show them your I.D. Be sure to check your state and local laws to be certain. At this point, the officer has more than enough information to perform his job. If you can keep your mouth close, you just may come out unscathed.

Your RIGHT to remain silent

Did you know that the Supreme Court, and pretty much every criminal lawyer in the world, says that you should not talk to the police, even if you’re not being arrested? Although you should not just ignore the officer’s questions, the Supreme Court has ruled that you must relay the message verbally by saying “I am reserving my right to remain silent” or “I’m going to remain silent.” This way they know you’re not just trying to be difficult. Chances are, you will not be charged with a crime, nor falsely accused of one. Remember, before or after an arrest, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Vehicle Searches

Just because an officer asks you to search your vehicle that in no way obligates you to obey. Otherwise he wouldn’t be asking, he would be telling. A law enforcement officer only has the right to search if:

A.) There is probable cause. Probable cause definitions can vary from state-to-state, so be sure to research that before you find yourself in a precarious position. Drugs, guns, and large sums of money are what it boils down to.

B.) If you have already been arrested, the arresting officer is entitled to conduct a warrantless search of your vehicle excluding the trunk.

C.) If verbal permission is given (by you) for the officer to perform the search (Never, ever, do this!)

 

After all, he wouldn’t be asking for your consent if a legitimate reason for him to do so existed, would he?

If he/she proceeds to search without your explicit permission, do not resist, just politely repeat, “I do not consent to this search. I do not consent to this search.”

Am I free to go?

As soon as they begin questioning you, simply ask “Am I free to go?” If not, they will assume that you are having a conversation with them of your own free will. If you end up getting arrested or detained, simply reiterate, “I am reserving my right to remain silent,” and keep your mouth shut!

So remember the three key phrases that law enforcement hates to hear:

I’m reserving my right to remain silent”

I do not consent to a search”

Am I free to go”

Silence is not an admission of guilt and cannot be used against you in court! When in doubt, shut your mouth, shut your mouth, shut your mouth.

Chief Wiggums Approves of this Message!

Chief_Wiggum

Resources:

The American Civil Liberties Union: http://aclu.org

Check Out This Informative Video for More Info:

Aside

Tips on Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer in Lexington KY

Car Wreck Lawyer Lexington KY

When you are injured in an accident and want to look for a personal injury lawyer in Lexington, KY that will accept your case, your choice in who you hire is very important. Personal injury lawyers are not all the same, and a bad choice may result in you losing thousands of dollars.

Here is Why You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer

When a person is injured in an accident that is a result of someone else’s actions, you may assume that they would offer compensation to you. Often times, an insurance company will involve themselves to offer a settlement. An underlying dilemma here, though, is that insurance companies often low-ball the compensation amount assuming the injured party will not pursue a lawsuit. Insurance companies under-compensate because that is where their bottom line profit comes from. They often resolve issues with their settlement offer. An insurance company will abuse the fact that you do not know your legal rights when an injury occurs. Often times the settlement amount is accepted, no questions asked.

If you want to exercise your rights, it is smart to hire a personal injury lawyer. A personal injury lawyer that has experience will have the ability to build up a case in your honor. They will also be responsible for negotiating a settlement with the insurance company and will take the case to trial if it becomes necessary.

While it is possible to negotiate with an insurance company yourself, they will do everything they can to take advantage of your ignorance and lack of experience. In trial you probably do not stand a chance against a professional defense team.

A lawyer will defend your side of the argument and do everything they can to get the highest settlement possible.

Costs of Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

Choose a personal injury lawyer who will accept your case on a contingent fee. This means that the attorney fees will come out of the award of the case. They will accept a certain percentage if you win but if your case loses, they do not get an attorneys fee.

Some lawyers will charge you just to file the case. Be sure to discuss this with each personal injury lawyer that you talk to about your case.

Average Contingency Fees

There are very few personal injury lawyers who charge by the hour, so the cost with your personal injury case will almost always be based on a contingency fee. An attorney will be paid a substantial percentage of your judgment if you end up winning.

A standard amongst personal injury attorneys is a contingency fee of 33%.

There are lawyers who will charge extra fees in the end and request additional reimbursements if the case ends in your favor. Personal law is a very competitive industry and from a business perspective, lawyers who accept cases on a contingent basis are forced to ask for this high of a percentage. This is because a majority of personal injury cases do not end in victory.

Are There Different Types of Personal Injury Lawyers in Lexington, KY

When looking for a personal injury lawyer to accept your case and defend you against the insurance company and in court if necessary, it is important that you choose the one who has experience in the same field as your case.

Please realize that most of these attorneys did not practice in the medical malpractice field. In addition to this, many will not handle workers’ compensation claims. It is best to seek out a lawyer who has a significant amount of experience in the area of law that is associated with your case. Medical malpractice is a niche where you will want to seek out a personal injury attorney who is a specialist in this area of law. The same is true for a workers’ compensation cases.

Another area of law that some law firms specialize in is injury cases. Burns, back injuries, head injuries, etc. These are all different types of injuries that law firms will specialize in. Some law firms specialize in auto accidents, defective product litigations, and construction accidents. Ask each lawyer who you are talking to which areas they have experience in and which areas they feel they are best in. Make sure you do this before you make your final hiring decision.

Meeting with a personal injury lawyer does not tie you down to anything. You can receive as many free consultations as you want before making your hiring decision. Make sure you find out if an initial consultation is free. Nearly all personal injury lawyers will offer this.

Personal Injury

Good Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer

Here are a few questions to keep in mind when you are going into your free initial consultations. If you think of something that you would like to ask, but it is not on the list, do not exclude it. Make sure you ask every question that you may have because you will regret it in the end if you don’t.

  • What areas of law do you specialize in and what were the areas of law that a majority of your cases have been in?
  • How many times have you handled a case that is similar to mine? What were the outcomes of these cases?
  • Are you the only attorney in this law firm that would be assigned to work on my case? Who else would work on my case if you weren’t the only one?
  • On average, how long would you say it takes for cases similar to mine to be resolved? How long do you think it would take for you to resolve it?
  • Do you work on a contingency fee basis? What is your standard contingency fee? Is there a fee to file the lawsuit?
  • Will I be involved in the case at all? Is there anything that I need to do that would improve my case? Is there anything that you need me to do in order to help you resolve the case?
  • How do you keep in touch with me to inform me on progress?
  • If I am not happy with the settlement offer from the insurance company will you go to court to fight for my case even if you think that we should accept the offer?
  • Are you going to be out of the office for any extended periods during my case?
  • Can I call your office with questions if I have them?

It may sound like you are grilling the attorney, but it is important that you get all of your questions answered before moving forward. Ask the questions that you feel are necessary. You do not have to sit there and interview them. Some lawyers will discuss most of these topics even without you asking.

If I Appeal, Can I Use a Different Attorney?

If your retainer agreement says so, then yes. You can discuss this before you hire a personal injury lawyer to take on your case. The lawyer generally will only represent you on the matters discussed in your retainer agreement. They usually will not ‘expect’ you to use them if you want to appeal. It should not cause any issues to arise if you go that route. Once the final judgment is entered into the system, the lawyer you hired does not have any further responsibility in representing you.

Tips on Choosing the Right Personal Injury Lawyer for You – Lexington, KY

Here are five quick tips on choosing a personal injury lawyer to litigate your case.

  1. Only attorneys who practice personal injury law should be on your list of considerations – it is a unique niche. Large law firms may have a department dedicated to personal injury law. You will narrow your field of choices by a lot if you focus in on those who practice in this area of law.
  2. Choose a local attorney if possible – someone local will be more accountable. They will not be able to disappear if something goes wrong in the case and it will be much harder to ignore your phone calls. Do not hire a lawyer off of a TV advertisement. They are generally referral services who spread leads out to a number of different attorneys.
  3. Schedule as many initial consultations as you want, and do not commit until meet with all of them – make an educated decision when you eventually do. Don’t choose with an overly enthusiastic lawyer that is promising you a multi-million dollar settlement when your case is really worth far less.
  4. Choose an attorney that you like on a personal level – chances are you will be doing a lot of talking to this person. If you do not like them on a personal level it can be very displeasing to have to talk to them all the time. Choose a lawyer who you get along with on a personal level and can make a connection to. Otherwise your case will be dry and boring, resulting in very little emotion on the attorneys part.
  5. Size of the law firm matters, sometimes – larger firms often have attorneys with more experience under their belt. Choose a firm that has been around for a while.

The Legal Satyricon

When it comes to porn, here are my rules:

Rule #1: The subjects must be adults
Rule #2: The subjects must be consenting adults

If you don’t break either of those rules, I am on your side. I will defend your right to make, watch, display, and sell that content.

Break either rule, and I want to hurt you for the damage you do to others.

I want to hurt isanybodydown.com. I want to hurt them bad. Who’s with me?

Here’s their business plan:

Step one: Register the domain name “isanybodydown.com”

Step two: Get ahold of nude photos of people who never consented to having their photos published.

Step three: Publish them, along with their names, home towns, and links to their facebook profiles.

So now how do you “profit?”

Well, openly saying “I’ll take down the photo for $250,” would probably create some legal issues for you. So, instead…

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