Wednesday, December 9, 2009

3 down, 1 to go!

So it’s late, I’m tired beat to shit, but I’ve just completed and submitted my third final for this semester.  I have one more on Saturday morning that I’ll have to take in person.  I actually showed up to my ConLaw class tonight to sit for the final, but Prof. Bradshaw “surprised” everyone by announcing he was giving us our final to take home with us to work on and submit on line.  The “good news” was that it was open book, open note, open to calling any Supreme Court Justices you may have in your “Faves” (on your T-Mobile network)…the “bad news” was there were only two questions.  So you can either do REALLY REALLY POORLY, or REALLY REALLY POORLY on the final. 


The materials that he handed out consisted of three questions.  The first two questions were hypothetical scenarios and we had to pick one of the two and discuss how they violated or supported the 14th Amendment and the due process and equal protection of the law.  The scenarios, literally, were 4 pages of information that you had to digest and then write a point/counter-point analysis in support of your argument.  (Have I put you to sleep yet?  Cuz I’M STILL AWAKE!)


I won’t bore you with my analysis of scenario number 1.  Cuz it was mostly serious.  Question number 3, however, was mandatory.  We were to pick one of the 300 cases we’ve digested and studied in class over the last 16 weeks where we approved or appreciated the Supreme Court’s decision and talk about why.  This is, word for word, what I wrote (YES, the items below, in parenthesis, were actually cut and pasted from my submission!):  (***A quick side-note about “my credit worthy peeps”.  There was a heated debate over the issue of gay rights in one of the classes wherein one of the participants spewed some random “well-known fact” that all gay people have excellent credit”  No, seriously, he said that.)


In re Romer v. Evans (and subsequently Plessy v. Ferguson):


I picked this case as the one I “enjoyed” or “liked” because it clearly effects me, my family, and my credit-worthy peeps.  As a refresher, R v. E was a 1992 case in which the Colorado voters adopted Amendment 2 to their constitution, a statewide referendum prohibiting any state entity from including sexual orientation in any of their antidiscrimination laws.  The TC granted a preliminary injunction to stay enforcement.  The decision was appealed to the Supreme Court of Colorado.  That court sustained the injunction and it was appealed to the US Supreme Court who upheld the judgment of the lower court. 


Justice Kennedy, delivering the opinion, refers to Plessy v. Ferguson:


One century ago, the first Justice Harlan admonished this Court that the Constitution ‘neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens…(dissenting opinion).  Unheeded then, those words now are understood to state a commitment to the law’s neutrality where the rights of a person are at stake.  The Equal Protection Clause enforces this principle and today requires us to hold invalid a provision of Colorado’s Constitution.


(Premature gay scream)


I wish I could be more optimistic like you, Bradshaw, about the future of my rights.  While I still, strongly, disagree with you about our pending “turning point”, it’s cases like these that let me see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”.  However, as the proverb goes, “sometimes that light is the front of the train”.


This case was in 1996, and since that time our country, as a whole, has taken 1-step forward, and 2-steps back.  The beautifully written opinion, here, gives me (or gave me) hope for a rose-colored future.  But the continuation of States adding Constitutional Amendments up for a popular vote and watching my family’s rights get stripped away one-by-one make that rose look a little wilted. 


The opinion of the court, in fact, wasn’t at all reflective of the “changing of the guard”.  Rather is upheld the lower court’s decision strictly based on the asinine way the Amendment was written.  It wasn’t, at all, based on principal, rather it was based on some idiot not having a grammar checker on his damn computer.  “The State’s principal argument in defense of Amendment 2 is that it puts gays and lesbians in the same position as all other persons.  So, the State says, the measure does no more than deny homosexuals special rights”. 


“The Fourteenth Amendment’s promise that no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws must coexist with the practical necessity that most legislation classifies for one purpose or another, with resulting disadvantage to various groups or persons”.    The Court attempted to reconcile that principal with the reality by stating, “if a law neither burdens a fundamental right nor targets a suspect class, [they] would uphold the legislative classification so long as it bears a rational relation to some legitimate end.” 


[Gay scream]


Ultimately the Court ruled, a State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws.  Amendment 2 violate[d] the Equal Protection Clause.


[Gay hand clap]


Justice Scalia, writing the dissent (can suck my gay balls) if he firmly believes that Amendment 2 was a “reasonable provision” which did not disfavor homosexuals in a substantive sense, only “merely denying them ‘preferential treatment’.   And yes, while I would prefer not to be fired for being gay and I would prefer not to have to worry about what’s going to happen to my partner, house, and children when I die from writing this paper, I don’t really feel like they “got it” with this case.  It wasn’t based on changing opinions of a class of people, this case was strictly “won” on a technicality.


Nonetheless, I liked the outcome, only if it confounded and pissed off a bunch of Republicans for 2 years until they could get it back on the ballot.


So, Bradshaw, I do appreciate your enthusiasm for my peeps.  IF I’m proven wrong and you’re right about the changes a comin’, you’ll be the first person I call to ask to be in my fabulous gay wedding.  Of course you’ll have to wear a leather harness, but I can hook you up.  You won’t have to buy one on your own!


Seriously, can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed your class(es).  You’re a unique character, and I’m glad to have you on my side.

Gosh, folks.  I hope I get an A.