Scalia said go “ask the nearest hippie.” So I did. On Gay marriage, John Roberts, Outkast, and Rosé.

SCALIAIn his dissent of the majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, Justice Scalia referenced the value of asking your nearest hippie tough, complex questions about constitutional interpretation and the meanings of intimacy and expression.

So I did.

I don’t live in Marin County or Ojai; I live in Chicago but presently reside in D.C. so my nearest hippie is of the urban, erudite fashion, rather than the bell-bottomed kind. She uses cloth diapers though so she’s basically a hippie (to Scalia).

We didn’t talk about intimacy, expression, or spirituality. Instead we focused on the constitutional issues we both noticed from the decision and dissents in conversations. By the end of the mostly textual discussion, we I thought other people were probably having similar conversations this weekend. In the spirit of inclusivity, we decided to celebrate Scalia’s call to action by publishing the transcript of our Q&A from the weekend. We casually explore our mutual love of constitutional questions, same-sex marriage topics, and the Obergefell case. Ladies and gentleman, I present Cara & Christina on Con Law: The Same-Sex Marriage Cases edition.

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Not Obamacare or gay marriage; The race and discrimination case. (TX Housing v. ICP)

While you were celebrating your free healthcare at gay wedding receptions, you likely missed a decision in a critical case about discrimination, housing, and a legal matter called disparate impact. The decision in this case (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project) came down Thursday and was off the radar because the Obamacare decision came down the same day. Roberts delivered the Obamacare decision, which upheld the national insurance program and was joined by five other justices. Yes, this much-hyped case – the biggest of the term, in the eyes of some – did not turn out to be a 5-4 decision. The Texas case, however, was the 5-4 case of the day in which Kennedy cast a decisive vote and authored the opinion for the four other liberal justices. Continue reading

Obergefell v. Hodges, from inside the SCOTUS

IMG_0491History happened today. Will you remember where you were when the same-sex marriage decisions came down? I will. I was inside the Court when we all sat up somewhat shocked to hear the first case of the day was Obergefell v. Hodges. Again, I am lousy at predicting what cases we’ll get decisions on each day. This fact is already entered into the record. But because it was a decision of such importance, for the first time, I stopped writing, listened, and looked around to see how the audience, the public, were not only hearing but experiencing what I was hearing.

It wasn’t obvious from the start of Kennedy’s reading of the majority (made up of the four liberal justices) decision that it would come out on the side of the same-sex couples, many of which were in the Court to hear their case. He started off referencing the “millennia” of the institution of marriage. Those who listened to the oral arguments back in March will recall Kennedy used this word a lot to question Mary Bonauto, the attorney for the same-sex couples, on why the definition of marriage should be expanded to include same-sex couples when, for so long, it has been reserved to one man-one woman.

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The Obamacare decision and the Roberts Court. (Whatever that now means)

I was with a group of teachers tonight who were attending a professional development seminar dedicated to enriching their understanding of the Supreme Court. Excited to be in town on the day the SCOTUS announced the decision in King v. Burwell, they enthusiastically asked when the panelist thought the next big decision – likely the same sex marriage cases – would be announced. Tomorrow? Monday? What did he think?

I tortured asked myself this question Wednesday night, on the eve of a three-day push to get through the remaining seven cases before the end of the 2014 term. The same question came to me via text, Twitter, email, Insta-G, and in a meeting on big events happening in the Court those days. I even sat down and drew a speculative calendar listing what cases I thought would come down each day, a Supreme Court case fantasy draft (party of 1), if you will. IMG_0459 Continue reading

The saddest, but best decision, out of the SCOTUS last week

Last week, six cases rained down on us in one day at the Supreme Court. While the church signs and “bath salts” opinions got our attention, as did the bizarre and tragic timing of the Confederate flag drivers license decision, none of those stayed with me the entirety of the weekend like Ohio v. Clark. This is a case that all teachers, administrators, and parents should know about. Last Thursday, the Supreme Court announced a critical decision about conversations between students and teachers in schools around the country. Continue reading

Who should redraw districts – politicians or independent commissions?

Arizona’s political civil war calls our attention back to the Supreme Court for another case about political elections. The dispute in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission rests on the definition of who holds the power of a critical component of political agency in a state – the power to redraw districts. In 37 states, the legislatures have the power to redraw districts. Arizona used to be one of those states until, in 2000, voters changed the state Constitution redistributing that power from legislators to an independent, bipartisan commission. Continue reading

Twenty cases, four Court days. Let’s do this.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 1.44.51 PMTomorrow, at 10am EST, we may learn what the future holds for same-sex couples in 13 states that ban gay marriage, millions of Americans on Obamacare, and men on death row awaiting executions in 31 states that allow capital punishment. And these are only three of the twenty cases from this term with decisions that have yet to be announced in the final weeks before the Court adjourns until October. It’s gonna be a busy week at the Supreme Court.

According to the Court’s website, if they don’t announce decisions on those three cases tomorrow, there are four more days left this month for it to happen. This many cases left is peculiar, especially for this time of year. It’s atypical for the Court to deliver five decisions a day, which they’d have to do if they were to disburse the decisions equitably each day. I’ve found that hearing more than four in one day was a heavy volume. Two or three is more common and, worth mentioning, appreciated by those of us inside relegated to pen, paper, and bad handwriting. Conversely, last Monday’s non-conference day yielded only one decision about the president’s “exclusive power to grant formal recognition to a foreign sovereign,” in Zivotofsky v. Kerry. Continue reading