Tuesday Reads: Indiana Summer BloggingPosted: June 30, 2015 Filed under: morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: arson, black church fires, Bree Newsome, Charleston massacre, civil disobedience, Civil Rights, cruel and unusual punishment, death penalty, Indiana in Summer, lethal injection, Samuel Alito, Ted Cruz, US Constitution, US Supreme Court 25 Comments
I’m still staying with my mother in Indiana. Her 90th birthday party was a huge success. Everyone that we expected showed up, and I got to talk to some cousins I haven’t seen in ages–except on Facebook. The weather sort of cooperated. It had been raining for days, but we just had intermittent showers on Saturday, the day of the party. We had the canopy set up over part of the driveway so the tables were on solid ground. We had too much food, so we donated some of it to a local homeless mission, ate some leftovers, and froze the rest. Since that day, we’ve had gorgeous sunny weather.
The image above of the first lighting strike of an Indiana thunderstorm comes from Schweiger Photo. I’m including other scenic photos of various parts of Indiana throughout this post.
Supreme Court Decisions and Reactions to Them
The U.S. Supreme Court continues to dominate the news today. I know you have already heard about the terrible decision to allow Oklahoma to continue using drugs that cause intense, extended pain for their inhuman executions. The U.S. Constitution forbids cruel and unusual punishment, but Samuel Alito thinks it’s much more important to preserve the death penalty than to worry about whether the victims feel like they are being burned alive.
Carimah Townes at Think Progress: It’s ‘The Chemical Equivalent Of Being Burned At The Stake.’ And Now It’s Legal.
By a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that the use of the lethal injection drug midazolam does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling comes more than a year after the botched executions of several inmates who remained conscious and experienced pain as they were put to death.
According to the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, “petitioners have failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that the use of midazolam violates the Eighth Amendment. To succeed on an Eighth Amendment method-of execution claim, a prisoner must establish that the method creates a demonstrated risk of severe pain and that the risk is substantial when compared to the known and available alternatives. Petitioners failed to establish that any risk of harm was substantial when compared to a known and available alternative method of execution. Petitioners have suggested that Oklahoma could execute them using sodium thiopental or pentobarbital, but the District Court did not commit a clear error when it found that those drugs are unavailable to the State.”
In her dissent, Justice Sotomayor wrote, “as a result, [the Court] leaves petitioners exposed to what may well be the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.”
Alito’s “reasoning” is that since the death penalty is “settled” law, whatever drug is available must be used even if it causes extreme pain and does not cause unconsciousness. Remember when Clayton Lockett “gasped for 43 minutes” before he finally died?
Cristian Farias at New York Magazine: In Lethal-Injection Case, the Supreme Court Essentially Ruled That Death-Row Inmates Have to Pick Their Poison.
Now we know why the Supreme Court left Glossip v. Gross — a contentious case about the constitutionality of lethal-injection protocols — for the very last day of its term. Four out of five justices who had something to say in the case announced their opinions from the bench — an extremely rare occurrence that the American public won’t get to hear for itself until audio of the session is released sometime in the fall.
In a 5-to-4 decision, the justices ruled that the death-row inmates in the case failed to establish that Oklahoma’s use of midazolam, a sedative they claimed was ineffective in preventing pain, violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The case’s various opinions and dissents run a whopping 127 pages — far longer than even the Obamacare and marriage-equality decisions. And they’re a sign that states’ methods of punishment are a major point of conflict at the court.
But Justice Samuel Alito, who wrote the lead opinion, went further: He said it is up to the death-row inmates and their lawyers — and not up to Oklahoma — “to identify a known and available alternative method of execution that entails a lesser risk of pain,” which is “a requirement of all Eighth Amendment method-of-execution claims.” In other words, it is the responsibility of those condemned to death to plead and prove the best alternative method to execute them. They have to pick their poison — otherwise, no harm, no foul under the Constitution.
And just so that there aren’t any doubts, even though the case was not about the death penalty proper, Alito went out of his way to remind us that “we have time and again reaffirmed that capital punishment is not per seunconstitutional.”
Samuel Alito should never have been approved by the Senate. He’s a monster.
The Court ordered that abortion clinics in Texas could remain open for the time being. Ian Millhauser at Think Progress: BREAKING: Supreme Court Allows Texas Abortion Clinics To Remain Open.
The Supreme Court issued a brief, two paragraph order on Monday permitting Texas abortion clinics that are endangered by state law requiring them to comply with onerous regulations or else shut down to remain open. The order stays a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which imposed broad limits on the women’s right to choose an abortion within that circuit.
The Court’s order is temporary and offers no direct insight into how the Court will decide this case on the merits. It provides that the clinics’ application for a stay of the Fifth Circuit’s decision is granted “pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition” asking the Court to review the case on the merits.
Ugh. I can hardly wait for the final decision./s
And then there’s the continuing unhinged right wing response to the Supremes’ decision on gay marriage. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been in dangerous meltdown mode ever since the announcement on Friday.
Politico reports: Ted Cruz: States should ignore gay-marriage ruling.
“Those who are not parties to the suit are not bound by it,” the Texas Republican told NPR News’ Steve Inskeep in an interview published on Monday. Since only suits against the states of Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky were specifically considered in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which was handed down last Friday, Cruz — a former Supreme Court clerk — believes that other states with gay marriage bans need not comply, absent a judicial order.
“[O]n a great many issues, others have largely acquiesced, even if they were not parties to the case,” the 2016 presidential contender added, “but there’s no legal obligation to acquiesce to anything other than a court judgement.”
While Cruz’s statement may be technically true, federal district and circuit courts are obligated to follow the Supreme Court’s precedent and overrule all other states’ same-sex marriage bans as unconstitutional.
The Texas senator then went on to suggest that Republicans who have called for following the court’s decision are members of a “Washington cartel” and are lying when they say they do not support same-sex marriage.
“[Republican Party leaders] agree with the rulings from last week, both the Obamacare ruling and the marriage ruling,” Cruz said. “[T]he biggest divide we have politically is not between Republicans and Democrats. It’s between career politicians in both parties and the American people.”
I guess Cruz hasn’t bothered to look at the polls that show most Americans support same sex marriage–or, more likely, he couldn’t care less what Americans think about it. Get over it, Ted. Marriage equality is “settled law” now.
From The Hill: Cruz bashes ‘elites’ on Supreme Court.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday bashed “elites” on the Supreme Court for imposing their will on America’s heartland in its decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
“You’ve got nine lawyers, they are all from Harvard or Yale — there are no Protestants on the court, there are no evangelicals on the court,” the 2016 GOP presidential candidate said on NBC’s “Today,” echoing criticism from Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion.
“The elites on the court look at much of this country as flyover country; they think that our views are simply parochial and don’t deserve to be respected.”
ROFLMAO! Earth to Ted: You graduated from Princeton and Harvard and worked under former Chief Justice Rehnquist. Obviously you think the inhabitants of “flyover country” are too stupid to know that.
A couple more reactions:
AL.com: Roy Moore: Alabama judges not required to issue same-sex marriage licenses for 25 days.
The Texas Tribune: Some Counties Withholding Same-Sex Marriage Licenses.
Following the Charleston Massacre,
a number of black churches have been burned in the South, according to Think Progress.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, at least six predominantly black churches in four Southern states have been damaged or destroyed by fire in the past week. While some may have been accidental, at least three have been determined to be the result of arson.
The first arson fire was on Monday at the College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Knoxville fire department has said that the arsonist set multiple fires on the church’s property and the church’s van was also burned. On Tuesday, a fire in the sanctuary of God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia was also blamed on arson, although the investigation is ongoing. And on Wednesday, a fire at the Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was determined to be caused by arson, destroying an education wing that was meant to house a summer program for children, impacting its sanctuary and gymnasium, and causing an estimated $250,000 in damage.
The cause of a fire that destroyed the Glover Grover Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina on Friday is unknown, while lightning is suspected in a fire that destroyed the Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee on Wednesday and a tree limb that fell on electrical lines is suspected in a fire at the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida on Friday that destroyed the church and caused an estimated $700,000 in damage.
That is truly frightening. Read more details at the link.
Blue Nation Review: EXCLUSIVE: Bree Newsome Speaks For The First Time After Courageous Act of Civil Disobedience.
Over the weekend, a young freedom fighter and community organizer mounted an awe-inspiring campaign to bring down the Confederate battle flag. Brittany “Bree” Newsome, in a courageous act of civil disobedience, scaled a metal pole using a climbing harness, to remove the flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol. Her long dread locks danced in the wind as she descended to the ground while quoting scripture. She refused law enforcement commands to end her mission and was immediately arrested along with ally James Ian Tyson, who is also from Charlotte, North Carolina.
Read all about it and see photos at the link.
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread below and have a terrific Tuesday!
Obama to make millions more Americans eligible for overtime pay.
This is really great, and about time. It will help a lot of people. The article in the NYT said
“at least two”. Looks like they didn’t have time to name the other one.
Really good news!
The good news from Texas is that beginning Friday and continuing since, significant numbers of county clerks are ignoring Gov. Abbott and AG Paxton. As of a couple of hours ago, 82% of the state population lives where they can get a marriage license. That’s about 47% of the counties, which are obviously rural, with small population totals. That doesn’t make them any less important, of course, and while more will join the list of those following the SCOTUS ruling, there will no doubt be some where county clerks and other state employees will continue to resist. Interestingly, when AG Paxton made his “you can refuse based on religious beliefs” remarks, he explicitly added that those doing so could be sued (but said there were attorneys who would represent resisters pro bono).
Yes that is good to hear…
When I watched the video of Bree Newsome taking down that flag I found myself clapping along with the crowd at the end. Good for her.
She is a courageous, bold, and strong woman!
Congrats to your mom and thanks for the beautiful pictures, BB.
It’s so good to get out into the country and, as my mother would have said, “commune with nature.”
Thank you, Sweet Sue.
Glad to hear everything went well for your Mom’s birthday. I was thinking to hell with watering my corn, 4 rows are not up and it’s been 10 days. Love the looks of corn in Indiana.
BB, I’m glad your mother’s birthday party was such a success. Enjoy the rest of your visit!
Thanks, Beata. I thought of you when I was picking out images of Indiana.
The pictures are lovely. I hope you are having a good time “back home again”.
Has someone already posted the story about the confederate flag “parade” in Dalton, GA? God don’t like ugly.
Oops. The video doesn’t work on that link. Here’s another one.
My partner and I went out to dinner tonight and I spotted a truck with a 10 feet tall flagpole mounted in the truck bed and he was flying the Confederate Flag. I was hollering, “look, look” and my partner was going “what, what”. And then she spotted it too. I tried not to react, but when we got beside him, I couldn’t help it, I flipped him off. The driver flipped my back and I gave him a flip back with both hands and my partner flipped him off too. From now on I’m taking my rainbow flag with me and every time I spot someone flying the confederate flag I’m going to wave the rainbow!!!
Good going. Last time I flipped someone off, he cut in front of me, and I just about wrecked. Then when I got home, my husband told me he was sitting at the light, and watched the whole thing, laughing his ass off at me.
Seriously, I haven’t taken the rainbow overlay off my FB profile yet. I can’t believe the number of people who are pissed off by it. And now some are countering with an American flag overlay. I guess I was too young to appreciate and understand the reactions to the civil rights laws in the ’60s. This has taken me by surprise. One fool who plays the same FB game as I do is unfriending anyone who has a rainbow overlay. I wish I were friends with him so he could drop me. I’d be so honored.
Good for you Janicen. It’s difficult for a person who isn’t gay to understand the scope of the homophobia in this country, using that rainbow overlay gave you a bit of an idea. One of my cousins called me yesterday to tell me that she got the same reaction from the overlay on FB and she was shocked. I told her to remove it, that she didn’t have to do that for me. Basically she said “hell no”. She was the first family member I came out to 42 years ago. She’s always supported me and using the rainbow overlay was her way of doing it again. Another cousin who’s been there for me called to tell me that she walked out of Mass on Sunday when the priest read a letter from the Bishop advising that the Catholic Church and more specifically the Diocese, would not be performing gay weddings nor would they be acknowledging them. She was so outraged, but I really don’t know why. This has been the position of the catholic church forever. No surprise there!!!!
You’re right. I guess I’ve never really understood what overt hatred and prejudice feel like. Sure, I’ve been objectified and discriminated against as a woman, but men have to be less direct about it because in the end they might get to sleep with us so they always have to keep that in play. Even racial hatred has to be somewhat on the down low because of societal pressure but hating gays is just fine and dandy because god says so.
22 years ago (I remember exactly because I was pregnant with my daughter) my husband and I attended a gay rights march in DC. We rode the subway into the city and it was packed with gay people but also with locals getting to where they needed to go. I remember sitting next to my husband and wanting to hold his hand or put my arm around him but I felt I couldn’t because it would be offensive to the gay people around us to do something in public that they were not allowed to do. At the time, even though we were all going to a gay rights march, gay people did not display affection to each other in public. I got a tiny taste of wanting to do something that would not harm or offend anyone in any way but I was prevented from doing it by the invisible hand of societal pressure. I didn’t like it one bit but it opened my eyes a little more.
I’m sorry for all that you and all gay people have endured. I’m so grateful and inspired by your persistence and determination in fighting for what is right for all of us.
“I’m sorry for all that you and all gay people have endured. I’m so grateful and inspired by your persistence and determination in fighting for what is right for all of us.”
There is no reason for you to be sorry. I and most people in the LGBT community understand fully that without the support of accepting and loving straight people, like you and your husband, we wouldn’t have made it this far. Marriage equality gives us the right to say “I do” and receive all of the legal benefits that accompany marriage, but it doesn’t make us “Equal”. We still have some work to do, as you found out by using that overlay, but we’ll get there.
Hell yeah, we’re going to the Finals in Vancouver! Go USA Women’s soccer team. What a game, what skill, and just how quick they did it. On Sunday, we’ll be watching.
Championship Game, USA rules!
Very exciting, Fannie. GO USA!!!