Friday, July 1, 2016

Judicial emergency

The United Nations Human Rights Council has independent experts for various issues. One has now been added for LGBT affairs. This person will keep the international spotlight on LGBT issues and see that these issues are integrated into what public officials and diplomats do.

The resolution creating this post has a few amendments, proposed by Pakistan. One adds respect for local values, "religious sensitivities," or domestic politics. Another condemns "coercive measures" in an attempt to change national values through such things as reducing international aid.

Even with this watering down, it is good to have someone manning that spotlight.

On the one-month anniversary of the Orlando attack the GOP members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform have scheduled a hearing on a First Amendment Defense Act. Yup, they've invited several conservative witnesses to testify for the need for a Religious Freedom Act (by another name). At the very least they're tone deaf.

The National Organization for Marriage (theirs, not yours) is lamenting their recent rally was a bust and they're out of money. Even so the GOP still does their bidding.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, the guy who is saving the empty seat on the Supremes for Trump to fill, isn't able to answer the question, "Is Donald Trump qualified to be President?" There's a red flag on that play.

Meanwhile the Senate Judiciary Committee has essentially shut down the confirmation of any judge that Obama has nominated. That includes 12 vacancies just in Texas, where the workload has been designated a judicial emergency. Senators Cruz and Cornyn have publicly supported Obama's 5 nominations for Texas courts, but are now blocking the process.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the military's ban on transgender service members has ended. It will take a while to implement the various pieces of the policy. Immediately, transgender service members will not be discharged. Then comes training for doctors in transgender care. Then comes working out how to allow service members to transition while in the military. All that should happen within a year.

Minutes before Mississippi's religious freedom law was to go into effect, US District Judge Carlton Reeves struck it down. This was the worst of the religious freedom laws to be enacted, granting broad permission for discrimination, including against unmarried straight people. Reeves wrote:
The State has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others. Showing such favor tells ‘nonadherents that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and . . . adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.
Therefore the law violated the Equal Protection Clause.

Headline of the day (from a few days ago): "House Republicans Spent Millions Of Dollars On Benghazi Committee To Exonerate Clinton."

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