May 12, 2015

My state reps: Unconstitutional

The Waco Tribune, showing that the paper is certainly not wingnutty, and the greater Waco area is at least not as wingnutty as stereotypes have it (they're also at least a bit wrong about the Baylor stereotype) calls out both State Sen. Brian Birdwell and State Rep. Kyle Kacal for being willing to pre-emptively take anti-constitutional actions on the issue of gay marriage.

Here’s the nut grafs:
House members will vote on HB 4105, which basically dares the U.S. Supreme Court to issue any ruling on same-sex marriage with which the religious right disagrees. State Rep. Cecil Bell’s bill forbids state and local officials from issuing or recognizing marriage licenses involving same-sex couples — even if the nation’s highest court rules same-same marriages are constitutional. That’s called anarchy. 
 This newspaper, believing that most people already have their minds made up on the issue of same-sex marriage, has offered no opinion on the subject. However, given the likelihood that lawmakers such as Anderson, Kacal and state Sen. Brian Birdwell don’t really understand the Constitution (except when it’s convenient to their political prospects), here are the basics of how our system works under the U.S. Constitution: 
 Congress and state legislatures pass legislation, which is then approved by the president or governors, thus making our laws. State and federal agencies then issue rules based on those laws. Presidents sometimes issue decrees and executive orders. When concern for constitutionality of these laws, rules and directives arises, the Supreme Court is sometimes tapped to render a studied decision. 
 Right-wing zealots have lately insisted that the high court is not final arbiter in such matters. But it is the final arbiter in the sense the specific questions raised about the law, ruling or directive are settled by the court on constitutional grounds, without concern for Christian, Muslim or Jewish dogma. In another sense, lawmakers are free to try to address the topic again, but this time the idea is they do so with regard to settled constitutional law. 
 Oh, yes — another thing. If you don’t like how our Constitution operates, you’re free to try to amend it. Otherwise, politicians should abide by their oaths and their allegiance to our flag — or quit taking oaths they won’t honor.
Amen.


Besides "anarchy," the word "petulance" comes first and foremost to mind. Because that's what things like this are — the political equivalent of 2-year-olds holding their breath until mommy changes her mind. 

And, as for these social conservatives claiming to also be fiscal conservatives?

Well, the Texas Observer covers that. They'll open the state to lawsuits that far exceed the amount of money Greg Abbott squandered as AG with his overall negative record on "suing Obama."

Dear Birdwell and Kacal — if you don't like gay marriage, don't marry gay people.

And, what the hell do you expect from a state that still has anti-sodomy laws on the books more than a decade after SCOTUS struck it down?

Unfortunately, the Waco Trib isn't fully aligned constitutionally itself:
It’s too bad smarter minds couldn’t have crafted a real solution in Texas — possibly granting civil union licenses to couples, whatever their sexual orientation, and leaving churches, mosques and temples their religious freedom to decide whether to marry someone. Alas, state lawmakers have chosen grandstanding to wisdom and are painting themselves into a corner. Let this costly circus begin.
Err, Waco Trib?

Under Windsor, SCOTUS found that civil unions that are anything short of being gay marriages in all but name, at the federal level, at least, already are unconstitutional. Federal district and appellate court rulings since then have set the state for SCOTUS’ expected ruling this summer that Kacal, Birdwell et al are trying to pre-emptively undermine.


In short, barring a surprise from Anthony Kennedy (it’s possible John Roberts joins the majority, too), the civil union bus has not only left the station, it will be out of service in a couple of months.

It is, perhaps, too bad, that smarter minds didn't start working on this a few years back. But, zealotry has pretty much driven smarter minds from the Texas Legislature.

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