Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, calling the Supreme Court “lawless,” tells the bigots of his state that they do not have to issue same-sex marriage licenses

According to the Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton, the “judicial activists” of the United States Supreme Court, in deciding in favor of marriage equality last Friday, “ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist.” And, as that’s the case, he’s just announced that the good Christian men and woman of his state cannot be compelled to marry same-sex couples, or, for that matter, even issue them licenses. Here’s a clip from the letter he issued today, followed by the opinions of a few legal scholars.

…Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the Court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live.

Indeed, for those who respect the rule of law, this lawless ruling presents a fundamental dilemma: A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is considered the law of the land, but a judge-made edict that is not based in the law or the Constitution diminishes faith in our system of government and the rule of law.

Now hundreds of Texas public officials are seeking guidance on how to implement what amounts to a lawless decision by an activist Court while adhering both to their respective faiths and their responsibility to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution. Here is where things currently stand:

Pursuant to the Court’s flawed ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued an injunction against the enforcement of Texas marriage laws that define marriage as one man and one woman and therefore those laws currently are enjoined from being enforced by county clerks and justices of the peace. There is not, however, a court order in place in Texas to issue any particular license whatsoever – only the flawed direction by the U.S. Supreme Court on Constitutionality and applicable state laws.

Importantly, the reach of the Court’s opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty. Even the flawed majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges acknowledged there are religious liberty protections of which individuals may be able to avail themselves. Our religious liberties find protection in state and federal constitutions and statutes. While they are indisputably our first freedom, we should not let them be our last…

For those of you who would like more, a scan of Paxton’s entire letter can be found here… For those of you who would like less, here’s his summary.

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I’d like to think that Paxton and his ilk would be shut down quickly, but it would seem, based on the opinion of some, that it might not be that easy. The following comes by way of the Washington Post blog.

…Professor Daniel Pinello of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York noted by e-mail that Texas is under no immediate obligation to issue licenses, because the Court’s decision last week only applies to the 6th Federal Circuit. Texas is in the 5th Circuit — but that circuit will likely soon issue a ruling following with the new decision. Once it does, he writes, “I’m aware of no general legal doctrine or precedent holding that county or other public officials are exempt from abiding by rights articulated by the Supreme Court in the event the religious beliefs of those public employees are in conflict with the federal right.”

Ruthann Robson, distinguished professor of law at the City University of New York, explained the question at greater length when we spoke by phone. Whether or not an individual county clerk is allowed to deny a license on religious grounds “is still unresolved,” she said. When New York passed its same-sex marriage law several years ago, some clerks resigned rather than issue licenses after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that accommodation was not an option. In Alabama earlier this year, however, the high court allowed religious objections. (Paxton himself notes that clerks deciding against issuing licenses “may well face litigation and/or a fine.”)

For an accommodation to be made, certain questions arise. “Is their religious belief substantially burdened?” Robson asked. “Is it overridden by their status as a public employee? Where is that line? Because as a public employee, you swear to uphold the Constitution.” Public employees “don’t have full 1st Amendment rights,” she said, “because it’s balanced against the interest of their employer, which in this case is the government.”

What’s not allowed, in Robson’s estimation, is for a clerk to shut down the issuance of licenses across the board over a personal objection. “The question in terms of accommodation has to do with individuals,” Robson said. “So if the entire courthouse closed, that would not be an accommodation.”

In that case, the Supremacy Clause kicks in.

The Supremacy Clause, in Article VI of the Constitution, delineates that the Constitution is the “supreme law of the land.” Tension between the power of the federal government and individual states is as old as the country itself. Even when something is mandated by federal law — or by the Supreme Court — states have often tried to work around it. The most prominent examples center on the tension over slavery that led to the Civil War and, in the war’s aftermath, the South’s treatment of black Americans…

For what it’s worth, people used to defend slavery and segregation by pointing to the Bible as well. And I’m sure there were teachers at schools throughout the south who, if given the opportunity, would have refused to educate black students on the grounds that having to treat them as human beings would somehow violate their religious freedom. Thankfully, I don’t think they were given that option. And I’m of the opinion that we should do everything in our power to see that it doesn’t happen now. Personally, I’d like to wake up tomorrow morning and see footage of gay couples being escorted into Texas courthouses by federal troops and camera crews the same way that, in the late ’50s, we opened up the schools of the south to black students. I want to see these last hateful gasps of institutional bigotry squashed early and decisively. If the so-called Christians of our nation’s most backward state don’t like it, so be it.

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[above: In 1957, President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division into Arkansas to protect the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to enter Little Rock’s Central High.]

Posted in Civil Liberties, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Totally Quotable Arlo: long shadow edition

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We went to the lake yesterday and stayed a little longer than we’d planned to. By the time we finally packed up and left, the sun was going down, and, on the way to the car, Arlo noticed that his shadow had grown since he’d seen it last. “My shadow’s a grown-up,” he said.

I was tempted to make up a reason for his shadow’s rapid aging, but instead decided to tell him the truth. So I knelt down, and, to the best of my ability, tried to explain why it is that our shadows grow longer as the sun moves closer to the horizon.

And should have stopped there.

But, as I felt that he understood me, I decided to press on and add that the sun, in fact, wasn’t moving at all, but that we were. And I could tell from the look on his face that I’d gone too far. While he could comprehend how shadows might change with our relationship to the sun, he just wasn’t ready to accept that that the sun doesn’t really rise and set at all, but that we’re spinning around it. So I decided to cut my losses, challenging him instead to see if he could outrun his shadow.

The next several minutes were spent watching him zig zag around the park looking over his shoulder and breathlessly yelling out, “It’s… still… there.”

[If you’ve got a few extra minutes, be sure to check out our Totally Quotable Arlo archive.]

Posted in Mark's Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Confederate Flag over the South Carolina capitol was taken down this morning

Another reason to be happy today.

This morning, at dawn, a filmmaker and activist by the name of Brittany ‘Bree’ Newsome, scaled the flagpole in front of the South Carolina capitol and took down the Confederate flag that has flow there since the early 1960s.

Newsome, a North Carolina activist, can be heard in the above footage to say, “I am coming down. I am prepared to be arrested.” And she was. The flag has also now been replaced. But one would think that, now that it’s been taken down once, it’ll be taken down again.

In spite all of the bad stuff we’re dealign with as a nation, this has been a good week in America.

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Posted in Civil Liberties, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Stay inside, Ypsilanti

By all appearances, we’re under martial law right now in Ypsilanti. I’m not sure what’s up, but the roads are all blocked and sirens are blaring. Judging from what I’m reading on social media, and the thumping bass beneath the wail of the sirens, I think we’ve been attacked by the gay. At least that’s what it looks like, based on photos like this one of what appear to be gay activists standing on Ypsilanti’s street corners, aggressively hurling rainbows into the faces of bewildered breeders.

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I hate to say it, but it would appear that the Republicans were right. Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision really was the beginning of the end. God help us all.

[In case it’s not clear, the above post is about the Color Run. If the gay have been able to weaponize rainbows, I’m not aware of it. Also, I suspect they’re all still in bed right now, having gay partied late into the night.]

Posted in Observations, Other, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Succumbing to the gay agenda, protecting the Huron River, and drinking Dirty Mooneys… on tomorrow’s Saturday Six Pack

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Thanks to today’s decision by the Supreme Court, I’m predicting this this week’s episode of The Saturday Six Pack will be both incredibly gay and alarmingly chaotic… I’ve put the word out to folks that I’ll have champagne at the studio from 7:30 to 8:30 if anyone would like to stop by for a toast and to share a few words about what today’s decision on marriage equality means to them, and I’m not sure what to expect. In addition to others, I’m told we should expect visits from Beth Bashert and Eric Wozniak, as well as calls from folks like performance artist Holly Hughes and Motor Trend’s Frank Marcus. If you have something that you’d like to share on the air, feel free to drop by and take a turn on the mic… Like I said, I think it’ll be super chaotic, as people will be coming and going, but I’m also hoping that it’ll be kind of beautiful. [My hope is that this hour of the show will serve as kind of audio time capsule that can be listened to by later generations interested in knowing what today’s decision meant to people in our little corner of the world.]

But we won’t start out drunk and unstructured.

Our first guest during the 6:00 hour will be Laura Rubin from the Huron River Watershed Council. She and I will be talking about the health of the Huron River, and the ongoing work her organization is doing to both protect and restore the river that runs through our downtown. [The Huron River Watershed Council, southeast Michigan’s oldest environmental organization dedicated to river protection, is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this month.]

And, at 6:30 we’ll welcome our friends Patrick Elkins and Aimee Adams into the studio to perform a 6-minute radio drama, which, as I understand it, will either be about 1) a couple who stumbles into a time portal while vandalizing the Water Street Sculpture Park only to find themselves becoming the prisoners of ottoman-shaped humanoids a million years in the future, 2) the election of a brilliant, lovable pygmy goat as Governor of Michigan, 3) a community theater production of the television series Knight Rider, or 4) a baker who, forced against his will to bake a gay wedding cake, cries into the batter, causing a chemical reaction that gives gay people super powers… Whatever they decide to do, I’m sure The Six Minute Smoke Break with Patrick Elkins and Aimee Adams will be magical. [And, yes, that’s what they’re calling their new radio drama troupe.]

Then, after the radio drama, we’ll be joined by longtime local Hedger Breed, who will be sharing a few stories of his adventures in and around our beloved city.

Oh, and at some point, our favorite local bar manager Brigid Mooney will be dropping by the studio with the fixin’s for her signature drink, The Dirty Mooney.

And all of this is free on AM 1700 come this Saturday evening.

If you’d like to tell your friends and neighbors about the program, feel free to share the Facebook event listing. Or, better yet, print out a few copies of the poster above, glue them to the sides of your children and pets, and set them loose to run around Ypsi Arbor.

AND, HERE, FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE NEVER TUNED IN TO THE SIX PACK BEFORE, ARE THE DETAILS ON HOW TO LISTEN:

Unless you live really close by, I’d recommend streaming the show online, which you can do either on the AM1700 website or by way of TuneIn.com.

And for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with the show, and need to get caught up, you can listen to the entire archive on iTunes.

One last thing. We love phone calls. So please scratch this number into the cinder block wall of the recreation room of whichever facility you’re doing time in… 734.217.8624… and call us between 6:00 and 8:00 this Saturday evening. If we don’t get at least one call per show, we feel really bad about ourselves.

Posted in The Saturday Six Pack, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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