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Published: 12/26/10

Year in Review: The Five Most Overblown Legal Stories

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
Year in Review: The Five Most Overblown Legal Stories

In this three-part series, Politics Daily's legal analyst Andrew Cohen takes a look back at the year in the law. Part 1 focused on the year's most under-reported legal stories. Part 2 below focuses on the year's most over-reported legal stories. And Part 3 will wrap up the year-end package with a look at major legal events and issues. The Five Most Overblown Legal Stories of 2010 No. 1. The same-sex marriage judge in California is gay. We don't talk anymore in America about the integrity of female judges who decide cases involving issues of interest to women. We don't talk anymore in...

Published: 12/21/10

Opinion: 2010 -- The Year the Courts Stood Up for Gay Rights

By  Paul Wachter - AOL News
Opinion: 2010 -- The Year the Courts Stood Up for Gay Rights

"Activism" is a reviled word in certain judicial and political circles, and yet it is "judicial activism" that has struck down many of this country's injustices when presidents and legislatures were unwilling to do so. Most famous, perhaps, is the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision ordering the desegregation of public schools. Later, White House-supported congressional initiatives like the 1964 Civil Rights Act went further to stamp out Jim Crow, but it was the courts that gave the civil rights movement its first great institutional imprimatur. In similar fashion, 2010...

Published: 10/13/10

Is the GOP in the Closet About Backing Gay Rights?

By  Andrea Stone - AOL News
Is the GOP in the Closet About Backing Gay Rights?

WASHINGTON (Oct. 13) -- A federal judge's order to halt enforcement of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was hailed by gay activists as a landmark ruling in their struggle to expand their rights. But something else made the case significant: The group that filed the lawsuit was the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay advocacy organization. And the policy U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips ruled unconstitutional? It was the brainchild of the Democratic president, Bill Clinton, who nominated her. Seventeen years after Clinton hashed out a compromise with conservatives that has led to...

Published: 08/19/10

Mosque Debate Muddles Partisan Lines: Howard Dean Against, Ted Olson For

By  Paul Wachter - AOL News
Mosque Debate Muddles Partisan Lines: Howard Dean Against, Ted Olson For

(Aug. 19) -- Though New York Democratic officials, including Gov. David Paterson, are divided on whether the Park51 "ground zero mosque" project should proceed, nationally the issue has largely and predictably broken down along partisan lines. Republicans, especially religious conservatives like Sarah Palin, are against it, while Democrats, including President Barack Obama, are for it. But a couple of prominent political figures now have muddled the line. Beloved liberal politician Howard Dean, one of the few Democratic 2004 presidential candidates who opposed the Iraq war, called the Islamic...

Published: 08/16/10

Same-Sex Marriages in California Will Wait, at Least Until December

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
Same-Sex Marriages in California Will Wait, at Least Until December

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit blocked on Monday afternoon the resumption of same-sex marriages in California until at least December, at which time the court will hear oral arguments over the legality of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in the Golden State. The ruling rejects and reverses the Aug. 18 deadline set last week by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, the trial judge in the case of Perry v. California, who earlier this month ruled Prop 8 unconstitutional under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution....

Published: 08/6/10

Prop 8 Ruling: Same-Sex Marriage Foes Conduct Post-Mortem

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
Prop 8 Ruling: Same-Sex Marriage Foes Conduct Post-Mortem

Leave it to the Liberty Counsel, a conservative action group, to say what many people have been thinking about a federal judge's ruling Wednesday that struck down California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative. Proposition 8, the group alleges, was not "adequately defended" in court in San Francisco by a rival conservative group, the Alliance Defense Fund. Here is a portion of the organization's press release issued just hours after U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared the marriage ban unconstitutional under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution: The...

Published: 08/4/10

The Prop 8 Ruling: Same-Sex Marriage Wins a Sweeping Legal Victory

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
The Prop 8 Ruling: Same-Sex Marriage Wins a Sweeping Legal Victory

The legal team that fought to save California's Proposition 8 from history's scrap heap practically dared U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to rule against the 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the Golden State. Led by attorney Charles Cooper, who stumbled and bumbled his way through closing arguments, these defenders of "traditional" marriage presented virtually no evidence to support their case during the months-long trial in San Francisco. Instead, they kept telling the veteran judge that legal standards and precedents were so clear and unambiguously in their favor...

Published: 08/4/10

When Was Prop. 8 Passed?

By  David Knowles - AOL News
When Was Prop. 8 Passed?

(Aug. 4) -- Proposition 8, also called the "California Marriage Protection Act" by its supporters, was passed by voters on Nov. 4, 2004, following a contentious campaign and a string of legal challenges on the matter of same-sex marriage. As a result, California's state constitution was amended to say that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." Almost immediately, three lawsuits were filed to challenge the inclusion of Prop. 8 in the constitution, and the California Supreme Court ruled that inclusion of the measure did meet constitutional muster. A...

Published: 07/15/10

Same Sex Marriage: The Run-Up to the Proposition 8 Ruling

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
Same Sex Marriage: The Run-Up to the Proposition 8 Ruling

In the wake of one important federal ruling on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, and as we await an even more significant decision on Proposition 8 in California, it's a good time to step back and briefly note the remarkably swift arc of jurisprudence that has cropped up over such unions. In less than two decades, from 1993 to today, the controversial issue has ripened -- in federal court, at the state level, in political discourse, you name it -- to the point where a definitive declaration from the United States Supreme Court may (relatively) soon be at hand. Seventeen years sounds like a...

Published: 06/17/10

California Same-Sex Marriage Trial: An Uneven Matchup

By  Andrew Cohen - Politics Daily
California Same-Sex Marriage Trial: An Uneven Matchup

The lawyers have spoken, endlessly it seems. Nervous or defiant or righteous, the witnesses have testified. The slick spinners have spun overtime. And the zealots have shouted up and down the great Golden State and beyond. Now, the fate of same-sex marriage in California (and beyond) is in the lap of one man, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, a veteran jurist who has painstakingly shepherded the high-profile constitutional fight through its trial stage. With closing arguments now complete, with relative silence returned to the federal courthouse in San Francisco, all that is left for the...

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