The prop 8 case (majority Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Scalia, Kagan): Decreasing the authority of government to regulate the personal sphere. If one cannot live with the authority of the government (federal) in its current form, one can move from one smaller government (state) to another, thereby defending one’s freedom. These are basic refugee rights, and, in my opinion, should be protected, in any form of government. So, when one has a legal issue that creates a refugee problem, the domain of jurisdiction should transfer to smaller levels of government to provide individual stability. The court sent the case back down to a lower federal court which had ruled on a case that only affected the state of California, and in their decision, invalidated the petitioner’s appeal to the federal court for jurisdiction.
The Voting Acts case (majority Roberts, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito): This ruling was a little more difficult, but again what it essentially means is that lower levels of government are responsible for setting fair voting practices. This might have been more in the federal realm in my opinion because it has federal consequences, but in a way, it reduces the paperwork, lobbying, indirect “acting out” at tax paper expense for publicity, and the sense of penalty for past racism (which may be born through the state by individuals who live there but may not have participated in the state’s racial legacy). It still leaves open federal, state, and civil suits and media in the event that injustices occur. So, everyone bears the burden of becoming more vigilant and educated. But some states no longer need the federal government’s permission in order to have a ballot. The burden is now on local groups and the media to address latent racism worded into local ballots through public dialog. Maybe these states could now form their own groups for ballot review. It seems almost like more paperwork this way; and one wonders if a stream-lined approach is not in fact more efficient. There will still be federal oversight though.
Thinking about it a little more, I’m becoming more and more convinced that this should return to federal jurisdiction and that federal action should be preemptive, but there needs to be a fairer and more current assessment of who, if not everyone, needs to submit their ballots for review. Congress can still do this under the ruling, and this is probably the direction things should take, with Congress setting a formula for all states to decide which ballots are previewed, and possibly including a random sampling of ballots from outside the formula. The action should not be punitive, but rather should “ensure fairness” across the board. One could have representatives from several interests (minority, environmental, economic) present, asking the committee to preview the ballot to prevent lawsuits and address potential problems before people go to the polls.
The importance of sampling in the process should probably be considered, as it may be that the act of previewing the ballot can also potentially influence the vote in unfair ways. So, maybe take half of those jurisdictions that come under the formula and preview, and then don’t preview the other half. And similarly test a pool outside of the jurisdictions that come under the formula.
Basically, the Voting Rights Legislation is a legacy of racism and slavery. One can understand that there might be deep emotional attachment to positions on either side (those that want to remember and those that want to forget), but my feeling is that in order for the country to move forward, laws have to diffuse the intense anger and confrontation that occurred over racial issues (over half a million lives were lost in the Civil War) into what is now “equal and fair” legislation across the board. To forgive and protect will be the best way forward. One cannot brush over the intense feelings that exist, but I don’t think they should be legislated. They should however be expressed.
Affirmative Action case: (majority Roberts, Breyer, Sotomayor, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas, Alito) Returns the authority to the lower court, protecting education for minorities. The court acted conservatively. Thank you.
The DOMA case (pro: Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan): Less enthusiastic support for the DOMA ruling simply because I don’t think simply being married to someone is a justification for federal (taxpayer) support, unless one’s job imposes a burden on the marriage and partner, by definition – in which case that specific group of people might argue for compensatory benefits (such as childcare for example, if one partner is required to be absent half the time). The government should not make any individual’s personal life a burden to the people, unless it extends that right to all people (married or not). Like health care rights. That’s the legal argument. The counterargument from a moral point of view is that all individuals deserve some basic rights, and if those basic rights can only be secured through our deepest commitments – those involving familial relationships, what is more important? Taxing everyone to acknowledge these commitments and thereby provide these basic rights through the commitments? Or waiting for everyone to care enough about their fellow human beings to give them some basic human rights? This one is a basic set theory mapping of marriage to rights and a set association of the gay and lesbian group to marriage in order to obtain those rights. In fact, it may be the inverse mapping. By allocating those rights in the mapped domain, by inverse function, one associates the minority group with the majority in the unmapped domain. Nevertheless, I find the mapping generally not a great idea to begin with. But politically useful for the ultimate goal of integration. This is kind of like having to learn how to do Fourier transforms in order to solve complicated math and physics problems with multiplication.