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2016 Democratic National Convention to be held week of July 25th #DNC2016

by: Oreo

Fri Jan 23, 2015 at 16:01:36 PM EST

This just in from the DNC...

Dear DNC Member,

Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will announce today the 2016 Democratic  National Convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016.  The Committee is still in final contract negotiations to decide a host city for the convention and will announce the decision in the coming weeks. 

Stay tuned for an announcement of which city will host the convention

Update:This is the earliest an incumbent Democratic party has held their convention since the Truman convention started on July 12, 1948, and the earliest either incumbent party has held their convention since the Nixon convention started on July 25, 1960.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

GOP 2016 date is earliest since 1980

by: Matt

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 21:45:43 PM EST

With a date of July 18th this is the earliest GOP convention since the 1980 Reagan convention in Detroit which started on July 14, 1980.

It also the earliest of either major party since the Clinton Dem convention in NY which started July 13, 1992.

Is going back to July conventions a mistake? With social media, and all the web-based news outlets, it's certainly easier to get coverage in the dead of summer than it might have been 22 or 34 years ago. But a late August convention, leading into September just as many voters are starting to pay attention, still seems preferable to me.

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GOP announces July 18-21st for #RNC2016 in Cleveland

by: Oreo

Wed Jan 14, 2015 at 19:42:40 PM EST


WASHINGTON – The Republican National Committee has selected July 18-21 as the official dates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

"I'm pleased to announce the 2016 Republican National Convention will kick off on July 18," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus.  "A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee.  The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day.  
“We're excited to continue working with our partners in Cleveland and we look forward to showcasing everything the city has to offer to our delegates and the world in 2016.”
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Supreme Court-Preview of Remainder of Term

by: tmess2

Sun Jan 11, 2015 at 12:06:44 PM EST

This past Friday, the Supreme Court returned from its Christmas recess with the January arguments scheduled to begin on Monday.  This time of year is a transition period on the Supreme Court calendar.  Enough time has passed since the first arguments that the Supreme Court is beginning to issue opinions from the early arguments.  On the other hand, on cases that the Supreme Court decides to hear, there is barely enough time between this month's orders accepting review and the April argument session to allow cases to be heard and decided this year.  Starting in February, any cases accepted will be for the fall's argument dates with decisions likely to be issued in 2016. 

The Supreme Court has already announced its argument schedule for January (10 arguments on five days) and February (11 argument on six days).  Based on the grants before the Christmas recess (and the dismissal of one of those cases when the petition disappeared and did not file a brief), the Supreme Court has 10 cases that could be (probably will be)heard on the six days of the March argument session.  On Friday, the Supreme Court rescheduled a case from earlier this year for a second round of briefing and argument (on an additional issue) and the rest of the April argument session will be filled by the cases that the Supreme Court decide to grant review on this month. 

January has a lot of cases of moderate interest.  First up is Reed vs. Town of Gilbert.  The issue involves a the Town's regulations on temporary signs -- a regulation that favors certain categories of signs (political) over others (churches and other non-profits) -- and whether those categories are "content-neutral" or not (a fact determines what test should be applied to review of the ordinance with content-neutral ordinances normally being upheld).  Next up is Mach Mining vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  The issue involves the EEOC's duty to attempt to negotiate a settlement before filing suit against a company that discriminates based on race or gender.  The company wants the Supreme Court to rule that courts can dismiss an otherwise valid claim of discrimination if the court believes that the EEOC did not act fairly in the pre-filing negotiations.  During the second week of arguments, the Supreme Court will hear Williams-Yulee vs. Florida Bar.  This case involves a rule barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting donations to their campaigns.  Needless to say in a court that has been hostile to campaign finance regulations, those supporting this rule may face a very hostile court.  Finally, in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs vs. Inclusive Communities Project, the Supreme Court will decide if the Fair Housing Act (like other anti-discrimination laws) allows a claim based on discriminatory impact (that the rules actually do discriminate against minorities) or whether the victims of discrimination must show that the rule or practice was intended to discriminate against minorities. 

In February, the big case is King vs. Burwell -- the case on subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  In the latest attempt by conservatives to gut the bill, the petitioners are claiming that the proper way to interpret the statute is that the subsidies are only available for people who purchase insurance on a state-run exchange but that subsidies are not available in those states in which the federal government runs the exchange because the state has not established an exchange.  Needless to say, as most states have not established an exchange, if the Supreme Court finds that the subsidy is only available on state-run exchanges, a significant number of people will lose the subsidy and will not be able to afford health insurance.  Also in February, the Supreme Court will hear Arizona State Legislature vs. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.  This case involves whether the U.S. Constitution requires that state legislatures draw congressional district lines or if that duty can be reassigned by the voters (or legislature) to an independent commission.

Looking at the likely March arguments, the big case is actually three consolidated cases challenging whether the EPA improperly gave insufficient weight to potential costs in enacting regulations on hazardous pollutants generated by electrical companies. Additionally, there is another significant First Amendment case, Walker vs. Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans,  concerning the ability of states to refuse to allow certain groups the ability to have a specialty license plate. 

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 415 words in story)

Could NYC Police strife cost NY the convention?

by: Matt

Thu Jan 08, 2015 at 22:30:54 PM EST

Officials in Columbus seem to think so:

Columbus might up end hosting the 2016 Democratic National Convention, in part because of another city’s problems.

City officials and Democrats statewide said this week that the turmoil in New York City between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYPD union has all but spoiled that city’s shot at getting the convention.

As one official said at Columbus City Hall this week, “No way the DNC picks New York with all the issues going on there now.”

That just leaves Philadelphia and Columbus. The feeling at City Hall is that it’s Columbus’ convention to lose.

DNC officials plan to announce their selection this month, though we’ve heard that before.
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Mario Cuomo - 1932 - 2015

by: Matt

Thu Jan 01, 2015 at 21:38:10 PM EST

Mario Cuomo, three-term Govenor of New York, never quite a candidate for President, and keynote speaker of the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, passed away today at his home in New York.

His forceful speech was the highlight of the convention:

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Ferguson in its Local Context

by: tmess2

Fri Nov 28, 2014 at 12:43:41 PM EST

There are a lot of different angles to the Ferguson story.  On the one hand, there are some national implications as the situation in Ferguson is not unique.  But, there is also the fact that -- while these problems exist in communities across the country, the key people with the ability to effect real change will ultimately be elected at the local level.  (And as Doc Jess has frequently noted, there is a dangerous tendency in this country to focus primarily on the presidency and to ignore the most important elections.)  This post is about the local context.  (I will probably have a follow-up focusing on the grand jury system, both in Missouri and nationally).

Ferguson is a city in St. Louis County.  As an initial point, St. Louis City is not part of St. Louis County.  St. Louis City is, in Missouri's legal language, "a city not within a county."  Basically, the City of St. Louis is similar to the boroughs of New York City having both city-type officials (a mayor and city council) elected in annual municipal elections and county-type officials (prosecutor, recorder of deeds, sheriff) elected in the regular state elections (mid-term and presidential).  More significant, because it is a de facto county, the boundaries of St. Louis City are set by statute and it is unable to annex new territory.  On the east side, the City is bordered by the Mississippi River.  On the remaining sides, St. Louis City is surrounded by St. Louis County.  Not too surprisingly, like many similar cities, St. Louis is gradually shrinking -- down to around 320,000 in the 2010 Census.

St. Louis County on the other hand has a population of just under 1,000,000.  St. Louis County also has almost 100 municipalities ranging in size from just over 52,000 to towns with 100 or 200 people.  Ferguson with a population of 21,203 is only the eleventh largest city in St. Louis County.  Overall, St. Louis County is approximately two-thirds white, and one-quarter African-American.  In Ferguson, however, those numbers are flipped.  As you hear northwest out of the City, Ferguson is the second city out (after Jennings and before Hazelwood and Florissant).  In St. Louis County, North County (like Ferguson) tends to be more heavily minority, South County tends to be more blue collar white, and West County tends to be the outer suburbs/conservative. 

Ferguson is a little bit poorer than Missouri as a whole, but not that much.  Similarly, it has a slightly lower percentage of college degree, but has about the same percentage of high school graduates as the rest of the state.

Like many communities around the country, Ferguson has the problem of under-representation by minorities and local residents on the police force.  In inner suburbs like Ferguson, this problem is complicated by competition for police officers.  When a young officer (particularly a minority officer) shows promise, a small city like Ferguson has to compete with the St. Louis City Police Department, the St. Louis County Police Department (effectively the equivalent of the Sheriff in most counties as the St. Louis County Sheriff -- an elected position -- basically serves as the court marshal rather than a full-fledged law enforcement agency) and the other 100 municipalities in St. Louis County to keep that officer. 

Additionally, while based on the population, African-Americans should control the city council and the mayor's office, the majority of the city council and the mayor are white.  Based on conversations with activists from St. Louis County, this unusual situation has arisen from a disinterest for city politics in the African-American community in Ferguson.  As Nate and the folks at 538 have discussed in recent months, there is a direct relationship between African-American participation in elected city positions and the efforts that a city makes to recruit and retain African-Americans on the police force.

Some of these problems create a reinforcing situation of conflict between the city government and the police department on the one side and the minority residents on the other side.  The police department deals with the minority community primarily as suspects, the friends and families of suspects, and uncooperative witnesses -- in other words, as a danger to be controlled rather than as part of the community from which the officers come (and many officers work for one jurisdiction while living in another).  In turn, the residents see the police department as an occupying force and anyone who cooperates with (or worse goes to work for) the police force as collaborationists.  The growing distrust and fear between the police department and the community leads to police officers being more likely to "reasonably" interpret ambiguous actions by minorities as threatening (thereby warranting the use of force) and the community interpreting any actions by the police force as unwarranted acts demonstrating racial hostility (with no actions ever being justifiable, and the small number of incidents being a bigger concern than the much larger acts of violence committed by members of the minority community on other members of the community).

There are no easy solutions to the problems of Ferguson and similar communities.  An effort at dialogue has begun.  Real progress will require, however, that the minority communities in these cities get and stay engaged in local politics -- the politics that has the highest potential for having real impact on their lives.  The ultimate solution, however, will require changes in attitudes.  Until minorities apply for and join police forces in similar percentages to whites, there will not be enough minority police officers so that all urban and suburban police departments resemble their communities and these communities will continue to compete with each other for the limited number of minority police officers.  As long as police officers have little interest in living in the communities that they police, there will remain a disconnect between officers and the people that they police.   

My own experience is that most police officers and most of the community leaders of minority communities are people of good faith who are trying to do the best for their communities.  It will take an extended period of engagement before real change can take root and grow.  Whether the members of the community are willing to take the time that is required remains the question.  

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Dems narrow 2016 convention choice to New York, Philly, Columbus

by: Matt

Mon Nov 24, 2014 at 20:42:11 PM EST

And then there were three:

Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz today announced the finalist cities under consideration to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention: Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia. The announcement comes after a round of site visits by the DNC’s Technical Advisory Group to five cities.

“We’re thrilled to move to the next step of the selection process to determine where Democrats will come together to nominate the 45th President of the United States,” said Wasserman Schultz. “We are fortunate to have such a diverse and vibrant group of cities interested in hosting this special event and we thank Phoenix and Birmingham for showcasing their special communities. We look forward to working with Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia as we go forward.”

In addition, the DNC announced the potential weeks for the 2016 convention that will be under consideration: Weeks of July 18, July 25, and August 22. The DNC will announce a final city and date early next year.

I find it fascinating that the constant drift to later conventions over the last few cycles has abruptly reversed itself this cycle. With the GOP still claiming it will go in June or July, the Democrats may be simply covering, not wanting to let weeks go buy between the two conventions. But I think they'll go for the late August date.

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Not an Important Election?

by: DocJess

Wed Nov 12, 2014 at 04:49:20 AM EST

Since the election, there have been a couple large themes going from article to article. The first is that far more people over age 65 voted than people under 30. The percentage for those over 65 was higher than usual, and the under 30's were especially abysmal. The other one is that turnout overall was the lowest since 1942, and remember, that was a year that many were away fighting WW2. 

I have a small group of friends who discuss things like this, and attached to the FB post was a comment from a friend who said, in response to a comment about voter suppression being one of the factors that kept turnout low, which said in part:

Turnout was low, but I think voter suppression played only a small role in it. 

I think there are two big things that kept turnout down: 

1) This really wasn't a particularly important election. ... 

Really? Not important? 

So here we have, from a man who is not under 30, and who is very smart, and someone interested in politics and policy, the pronouncement that there are elections that are not important.

If people like this man hold that opinion, the overall problem is more serious than I'd thought.  

ALL elections are important, and I'm incredibly confused as to why someone would think otherwise. Here in Pennsylvania, our primaries are late because that's when school budgets and some ballot initiatives show up. Where my taxes go are important to me.

In odd numbered years, in a lot of states, that's when the state legislatures are elected. You remember them, the folks who write the redistricting maps every 10 years and in some states appoint judges. Also in odd years are often row officers, the ones that set local policies, run the schools, decide whether local potholes are fixed and storm water problems are solved, to name a few.

Off-year even year elections? EVERY member of the House of Representatives and a third of the Senate. You remember them: the folks who set policy on things like health care, climate change, foreign policy, declaring war not to mention confirm presidential nominees like SCOTUS. The current Congress is why we have measles at the highest rate in 30 years and no Surgeon General. 

There is no such thing as an unimportant election. And since too many people are mistaken about that, individual votes in local and off-year elections count more. Which is how some elections are won or lost by five votes, or one vote.  

Voting matters. Being involved matters. Get involved NOW. Carry voter registration forms in your car, so when you come across someone who isn't registered you can fix that problem quickly and easily.  

Sometimes I email copies of my articles to a distribution list. I did that with this article. I received a note back which asked why I was sending it because it was preaching to the choir. Why? Because that's how you get them to sing. 

Get out there NOW.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Today is Veterans Day

by: DocJess

Fri Nov 11, 2011 at 05:17:25 AM EST

(Every year, I still have nothing to add... - promoted by DocJess)

This was my post last year. And the year before.
Again, I have nothing to add, except, call the Vets you know and say thanks.

From the Department of Veterans Affairs:

World War I – known at the time as “The Great War” - officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, in the Palace of Versailles outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” [...]
An Act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U. S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday—a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as "Armistice Day." Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but in 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the Nation’s history; after American forces had fought aggression in Korea, the 83rd Congress, at the urging of the veterans service organizations, amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word "Armistice" and inserting in its place the word "Veterans." With the approval of this legislation (Public Law 380) on June 1, 1954, November 11th became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

And honour we should. (Hi daddy, I love you.) I don't know if there are any surviving vets from WW1, but we all know vets from WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Not to mention the men and women who voluntarily joined the service in times of peace, ready to serve. 

Whether voluntary or conscripted, and whether serving in a "good" war or a "detested" war, these men and women went off to stand for America. In freezing cold, blistering heat, in daily danger. They deserve our respect and our thanks. A special call out to those conscripted for Vietnam: we should have been much more kind when you came home. 

Shamefully, we as a society do not give to these brave men and women what they deserve. Last year, 2,266 vets died because they lacked health insurance.  An inordinate number live on the streets. Too many suffer from physical and mental afflictions for which they cannot get treatment. There is a new website to help vets find jobs. It comes NOT from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but rather from Homeland Security.

So today, instead of using this as an excuse to shop the sales (how is it that we commercialize EVERYTHING?) call a vet you know. Say thanks. 

Discuss :: (7 Comments)

We Don't Need a #DNC Autopsy: We Already Know

by: DocJess

Mon Nov 10, 2014 at 05:50:53 AM EST

The DNC is about to embark on a costly, time-consuming deep dive into what when wrong in 2010 and 2014. It's a waste of their time and our money. The process will be run by a lot of the same people who caused the problems, and will be published filled with pretty pronouncements of "cure" that are never implemented. 

Allow me to present both diagnosis and cure: 

Give Democrats reasons to be Democrats.

Diagnosis: We do a lot of good that people appreciate. We then run away from our successes, dwell on our failures, message poorly, and enable the Republicans to move the goalposts. 

Cure: Stop it. 

More detailed explanations:

  • #Bold Progressives, and a whole lot of progressive Democratic groups on Facebook constantly list successes related to everything from the ACA (PEOPLE HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE WHO NEVER DID BEFORE!!!!!) to Gay Marriage to decreased unemployment, lowered Federal debt....here is a list of 269 of them. We do these things and then we keep quiet. We need to message these things constantly NOW. When it doesn't matter in terms of turning out the electorate, so that people vote like they brush their teeth.
  • We need to be proud of our positions. For years, the DSCC has run "safe" candidates in purple districts. We need to run people who support the platform positions on both social issues and economic issues. And have them run ON the party line. Create a clear contrast between our positions and those of our enemies (and yes, we need to view them as enemies). This needs to begin at the local level. We should be recruiting local, county and state candidates for the next cycle (which is 2105, kids, and not 2016) because these are the people who should be banging doors in January 2015. We win by taking our country forward at every door, and we start early. It's not all about the White House. Face it, the Congressional District maps are the way they are because of the STATE legislatures. Think about it, acti on it.
  • We need to spend money to fight the war chests of the plutocracy. We should be advertising nationwide on TV, by web ads, radio ads and print ads. Pointing out "this is what we've done for you lately". As a corollary, we need to publicize what we try to do that gets stomped by the Republicans and call out our enemies by name.
  • Our elected officials, especially in the Senate, need to avoid capitulation at all costs. Filibuster when the Republicans try to pass clean coal legislation that kills the economy. Publicize WHY we're doing it. And stand up publicly and make a floor speech, no secret holds. Elected officials from Boards of Supervisors on up should email/snail mail missives regularly to Democrats encouraging them to attend local meetings, and to contact their Republican reps (think: my state Senator is a Democrat, but my Assemblyman is a Republican, or my favourite Supervisor is a Democrat, but the full board runs red, etc.) and tell them "this is how I, your constituent, want you to vote." It matters - people want to get reelected and listen to the majority who contact them.
  • We need the 50-state program reactivated. We need people who have money to give until it hurts (for my plan, not the current DNC plan). We need people who don't have money to knock doors in their neighborhoods to tell their neighbors WHY they're Democrats and why organizing NOW matters.
  • We need to support the door knockers with materials paid for by the people who have money and no time. We need to get VoteBuilder to the point where it works for local levels as it does for national candidates: share the data, enable lie updates to the database that hold. 
  • When the Republicans do nasty, underhanded things that move the country towards even greater corporatism, we need to not only call them out, but also the media that buy into and promote those agendas. Write letters, send emails, make calls.
  • We know what works in presidential years, we need to mirror that as local, platform based and not just personality based. We need to get the campaigns to work together. We need to build local Democratic organizations that depend on people power and not the powers that be. We need to engage young people.
  • We need to support one another. We need to stand up for our president who is the veto pen between us and the Middle Ages. We need to push the positive and ignore things less perfect. We - EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US - need to be proud of the good things, and flash back to what a Democratic Congress can do. We need to leverage the recent accomplishments of California as a blue state, and point out what could happen elsewhere. 
  • We need to support independent, progressive blogs. Our news sources cannot be the MSM only. We can't depend on Facebook to cull the information we need. Back in 2008, there were several hundred progressive blogs, with varied voices, now there are very few. We need voices to speak and be heard. This is how resistance works. 
  • We, each and every one of us, need to stand up and be counted. We need to activate our friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. We need some direction from the party, but we need to run our party. Think about 2008: the platform was designed at the local level which wrote priorities at small gatherings, moved those line items up to the counties, then the states and finally the National committee. Six years later: all gone. When WE THE PEOPLE lose our participation, we lose elections. If you don't remember "WE THE PEOPLE" click here. Quiz on Tuesday. 
  • Start now. Tell your local committee, your state and county committees, that you're ready to get involved. Write the DNC. Let them know that you are holding them accountable to work WITH you, and not just asking for money.

It's up to all of us. We're the resistance, and in the end, we will prevail.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Same Sex Marriage -- Sixth Circuit

by: tmess2

Thu Nov 06, 2014 at 23:06:44 PM EST

When same sex marriage was last in the news, the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to review decisions striking down bans on same sex marriage from the first three circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals to address the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated part of the Defense of Marriage Act.  Shortly afterward, the Ninth Circuit made the count 4-0.

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee) made the count 4-1. Aside from the impact on the residents of these four states, this decision changes the picture in a legally significant way.  While there is no requirement that the U.S. Supreme Court take any case, the U.S. Supreme Court in its own rules suggests that it sees the need to resolve splits between the various circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals on issues of federal law as a primary consideration in determining which cases to hear.  Five weeks ago when all of the appellate courts had reached the same result, there was no split to resolve.  Today, there is.

At this point, the couples in these cases (the Sixth Circuit heard six separate cases from all four of its states together) have a decision to make as to the next step.  Which option they take might matter to folks in the other courts still considering appeals on this issue.

Option Number 1 is to file a motion for rehearing.  Because of the number of appeals filed in federal court each year, the federal court of appeals is divided into regional circuits and, even within those circuits, judges hear cases in panels of three.   To assure consistency in the decisions within a circuit (and to avoid a meritorious claim failing due to bad luck in the process of randomly assigning cases to panels), parties can file a motion to have the case re-heard by all of the judges of the court.  While these motions are rarely granted, there is no legal downside to requesting a rehearing.  The very act of filing a motion for rehearing extends the deadline for requesting the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. 

Option Number 2 is to give up the chance for rehearing and proceed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.  There is no legal advantage to this option, but there is a practical advantage -- it gets your case to the U.S. Supreme Court sooner.

This is where other considerations enter into the equation.  First, while the cases were heard together, these are still technically six separate cases.  Each set of couples get to make their own decision on what they want to do next.  Similarly, there are four sets of state officials who get to decide how to respond.

Second, aside from the fifteen days to make this decision, there is a second time crunch.  The U.S. Supreme Court briefing rules effectively require the U.S. Supreme Court to accept a case by mid-January in order to hear the case in April and decide the case by the end of June.  While the proponents of same sex marriage would prefer a favorable decision from the U.S. Supreme Court sooner rather than later, it's not clear that trying to cram this case onto the April argument calendar is the best way to get a favorable decision.  Even if the couples want that quick of a decision, the states will have thirty days to respond to any application and it is not unusual for parties to get an extra thirty days to file the response.  Thus even if the couples want to force a decision this term, the states could push it off to next term without any unusual tactics.  Under these circumstances, the delay from filing and losing a motion for rehearing will probably have little impact on the Supreme Court hearing the case in Fall 2015.

Third, given the composition of the full Sixth Circuit, there is a decent chance that a motion for rehearing would be granted.  If a rehearing is granted, the full Sixth Circuit might find in favor of the couples.  While this would be good for couples in these four states, it would eliminate the split in the circuit and, thereby, make it less likely that the Supreme Court would take one of these cases. 

Fourth, while a split between the circuits is a factor in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to take a case, it does not have to take any case.  In not taking the earlier applications, the Supreme Court Justices potentially gave a sign that they do not want to take any same sex marriage cases at this time (as opposed to a sign that they approved of the lower court decisions in the earlier case).   By not asking for rehearing, the couples give up a chance for getting relief from the Sixth Circuit without any assurance that the Supreme Court would take their case.  Additionally, if the Supreme Court declines to take a case upholding the bans on same sex marriage, such a decision would clearly signal that the Supreme Court has not yet taken a position on the validity of such bans (encouraging the remaining, more conservative, circuits to uphold the bans in their states). 

Fifth, there is a school of thought that the Supreme Court is not going to take a case on whether a state has to accept same sex marriage until almost every state allows same sex marriages.  If that is the case, the only chance that these couples has is a motion for rehearing.

Sixth, there are actually two separate issues in these cases.  Some of the cases involve couples seeking the right to marry in their home state.  The rest of the cases involve the more limited issue of whether a state has to recognize a same-sex marriage performed in a state that allows same-sex marriage.  This second issue is more narrow, and some think that the swing votes on the Supreme Court might be more willing to consider this issue (which after all would merely extend the earlier ruling that the federal government has to recognize such marriages to the state governments).   Thus, it is possible that the couples seeking "recognition" might decide to go directly to the Supreme Court (after all, if the full Sixth Circuit recognized a right to marry these couples would still effectively win) while the parties seeking the right to marry ask for rehearing by the Sixth Circuit.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

The Agony of Defeat - A Plan Moving Forward

by: DocJess

Wed Nov 05, 2014 at 05:47:18 AM EST

It was worse than imaginable - Virginia? Really? VIRGINIA? That certainly wasn't on anyone's radar. Add in the unknowns of Louisiana and Alaska, and it can get even more gut wrenching.

But it's not just the Senate.

It's the governors. Congrats to Rhode Island for your first female governor. Congrats in Pennsylvania. But Vermont a squeaker? Maine went to LePage over feeding donuts to bears? (Not kidding). Even in Kansas where prominent Republicans signed that they would not re-elect Brownback, and he wins? 

Not to mention the House - largest Republican majority in 70 years.

There will certainly be issues for the Republicans going forward. The Senate will be fun to watch, and we'll see how big the tea bag contingent really is in the House when the Speaker election comes up. But for now, there's that issue of placing blame.

And blame sits firmly with the Democrats. We need to take a lot of blame for what happened, we need to analyze the hell out of it, and then we need to do the right things.

I live in a small town with a Democratic Committee. Over the 30 years I've lived here, the demographics have changed from lily white Republican WASP, to a more inclusive society, where Democratic registrations have gone from well under 20% to approaching 40%. I don't generally get along with the local Democratic Party. I tell them the same thing year in, year out. In certain ways, I have the relationship with them that Sheriff Bart has with the town he serves in Blazing Saddles. I have a few friends, but mostly, I get pie from people who don't want other people to know they don't hate my positions. It's actually not that bad, but when it comes to how to run things, we are diametrically opposed. It's a microcosm of a lot of what happened in last night's tsunami.

Democrats have a good ground game, and that shows nationally in Presidential years. But what we suck at is giving people a reason to be a Democrat when it's not that last six months running up to said Presidential election. We are character-driven, instead of platform and policy driven. Our messaging is terrible, and we are too quick to throw our people under the bus in lieu of defending them.

We don't coach our young people. The biggest problem for us in 2016 will be the young people who decide to vote Libertarian because they don't really understand what that means, and they fall for the pseudo-libertatians using the cloak of individual rights as a front for what they really want to do.

This needs to stop now. Today. We need to coalesce around a set of beliefs, stick with them and fight for them. We need to watch what is going to unfold in the Senate and be vocal about it every day.

Think about it: McCain will have Armed Services, Inhofe will have Environment, I don't even want to think about Judiciary. They are going to align with Darrel Issa and hold hearings like we've never seen. They'll put poison pills on funding bills, They are going to impeach Obama in the House, and possibly convict him in the Senate. They are going to try and repeal the ACA. They are going to refuse to sign the UN Climate Change agreement. More troops will go off to war. Taxes will go up for everyone but the über rich. Abortion and certain birth control forms will be outlawed. Common Core is dead. Voter suppression on a mass scale will continue, and this time with no oversight from Justice. And let's not forget that we'll not only be without a Surgeon General, but also an Attorney General and a bunch of other positions, including judges. 

Think a return to the Dark Ages.

Yes, kids, they are that bad.

There are things we can do. We need to analyze what happened, improve our messaging, and work hard to keep things in the sunshine.

A blog like this may well disappear, and we are one of the few small, independent progressive blogs around. Six years ago, there were hundreds that have now folded into larger blogs, or just died off. Tom Wheeler's FCC is looking for new ways to make the internet pay-to-play, and we won't be able to afford the cost of a direct pipe to the internet. Wheeler will have brand new allies in the Senate to help him.

I recommend that we take a few days to lick our wounds. Personally, if I had the time, I'd spend the next four days in the bathtub. And then we need to come out fighting. We need to take a serious look from the local committees on up - let the blue successes lead the purple areas, and outreach to the red ones. We need to blog, comment on blogs (not on Facebook, because we need the records), pick issues, write position papers and work when it doesn't seem to matter. My local position has always been that if we give Democrats good reason to BE Democrats when it doesn't matter, they'll turn out to vote for the same reason they brush their teeth: muscle memory.

We need to support our President, for Obama is all that stands between us and annihilation.

So lick your wounds, and remember, as of January, you're either part of the resistance, or you're a collaborator.  

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Sunday With the Senators: Is all lost?

by: DocJess

Sun Nov 02, 2014 at 18:31:29 PM EST

I wish I could be as optimistic as when I wrote my last projection in August, when my number was 53. I've seen the Saturday polls, and it's taken me all day to pull out my research and face things.

The first thing I want to say is that we will not know on Tuesday night whether or not we hold the Senate. Louisiana is going to a run-off, and there's a slight chance Georgia will also. Further, Alaska won't be decided until the absentee ballots come in.

Here's what I got wrong: first, I had expected the first domestic Ebola patient in November, not September. You wouldn't think that could affect things the way it did, but the disease of fear is galvanizing. And the Democrats made a very wrong decision in playing into fear instead of going with science. And especially refusing to become very vocal on the issue that the reason funds to CDC and NIH were cut, and the reason we lack a Surgeon General is 100% the fault of Republican obstructionism.

The other problem was that too many Democrats ran away from President Obama - while his personal numbers aren't great, a lot of what he did (think ACA) is something that our candidates should have used.

Plus, there were some terrible mistakes that some of our candidates made, most notably Bruce Braley. Stuff normally reserved for right wingnuts. So -- let's take a look:

AlaskaMark Begich

I still think he holds. He's got a good ground game, especially in the far reaches. 

ArkansasMark Pryor

Pryor had a good shot here, and lost it. This is a case where he made no glaring error, except he should have run on women's issues and the ACA , as he had earlier in the campaign.

ColoradoMark Udall

While the polls don't look as good as I think they should, I believe Udall will pull it out in the end. Plus, this is the first year of all mail-in ballots, and that might encourage people to vote who wouldn't go to the polls. 


I just don't know. Certainly, the biggest gaffe of the year belongs to Braley who shouldn't have said anything anti-farmer. And the Des Moines Register has never called Iowa wrong that I can remember. The paper said last night that Ernst was up by 9, but I am hoping that the Democratic ground game pulls through. Joni Ernst is a John Bircher! EGADS!!!!!

Louisiana, Mary Landrieu and a run-off

She'll win on Tuesday, but likely won't break 50%. Thus, this will be a December run-off. Whether Landrieu holds is a function of what the DNC can do to support her. The second biggest gaffe of the year belongs to Mary who pointed out that people in the south hate Obama for being black. True, but truth doesn't normally carry the day in American politics.

MichiganGary Peters


North CarolinaKay Hagan


OregonJeff Merkley


GeorgiaMichelle Nunn

I keep hoping she'll break 50%, but am unclear. The run-off here will be in January.

Kansas, Greg Orman

Who woulda thought? And we don't know which side he'll choose.

Kentucky, ??

This is another Iowa. It looks like Mitch will win again, and that as a function of the nastygrams he sent out last week, about which Grimes sued. It will be closer than the polls suggest, I think, and it's painful.

So there you have it. Clear as mud, and we won't know Tuesday. The only silver lining in all this is that if the Senate does flip, it will only be for two years, and if you think you saw obstructionism between Harry Reid and John Boehner, you ain't seen nothing yet. The far right of the House won't be able to align with the Senate. And the Democrats in the Senate will add amendments that put a lot of Republicans up in 2016 in the hot seat. PLUS, don't forget that a lot of Senators (Rubio and Paul to name two) won't be in the Senate most of the time as they'll be out running for President - thus it will be hard for Mitch to get to 51. 

Wish it were rosier, folks.  

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Supreme Court and Foreign Policy

by: tmess2

Sun Nov 02, 2014 at 10:31:22 AM EST

While most folks are paying attention to Tuesday's election, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on Monday morning in what might be the most politically charged case of the term.

Back in 2002, Congress passed a law allowing American citizens born in Jerusalem to designate Israel as their place of birth on their passports.  The State Department for the past twelve years has simply ignored this law, continuing long-standing U.S. policy of treating Jerusalem as disputed territory with its status to be resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 

Around the time that Congress passed this statute, Menachem Zivotofsky was born in Jerusalem.  His parents, U.S. citizens, sought to have Menachem's passport reflect that he was born in Israel.  When the State Department declined, they filed suit on Menachem's behalf.

Thirty years ago, the courts would have dismissed this case as a political question, finding that this dispute was a matter for Congress and the State Department to resolve.  While the lower federal courts agreed with this traditional approach, in March 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court set aside two hundred years of history and held that this case presented nothing more than resolving the constitutionality of a statute and sent it back to the lower courts to address the validity of the statute.

Not too surprising, the case is now back before the Supreme Court after the lower courts found that the statute represented an improper interference with the power of the Executive Branch to conduct foreign policy.  Technically, this case is not about whether (at the end of negotiations) Jerusalem should be part of Israel.  Most Americans support Israel's position in on-going negotiations that Jerusalem will be on the Israeli side of the final borders (and any proposed map from the State Department has reflected this position).  The State Department believes that, since the status of Jerusalem is on the table (as the Palestinians still want part of Jerusalem) and the U.S. wants to have a role as a mediator on this issue, the U.S. should not take the position that the status of Jerusalem has been resolved.

The Zivotofsky's take the position that this case (and the statute) merely involve Congress's authority to govern the content of passports.  The State Department takes the position that the statute goes beyond the general content of passports and, instead, trespasses on the presidential power to recognize nations and governments (including recognizing borders).

The State Department seems to have the better argument.  Nobody is questioning that Congress can require that passports note the place of birth of an individual as a means of identifying the bearer of the passport.  The issue is whether Congress can, by statute, decide that a certain city is within a certain country.  If Congress can declare by statute that passports will reflect that Jerusalem is part of Israel, Congress could also declare by statute that Belfast and Londonderry were part of the Republic of Ireland (instead of the United Kingdom) or that Kirkuk was part of the nation of Kurdistan (instead of Iraq).  Such decisions seem to go to the core of the President's authority to conduct foreign policy.   

Transcripts of the argument (as well as a recap) should be available on Monday afternoon on SCOTUSblog with the actual audio being available on Friday.  A decision will likely not come down until February (or possibly later). 

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