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A Blog by Gary Wright II

Supreme Court has some tough decisions to make - what do you think?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

There are several tough cases in front of the US Supreme Court this session, and I would be interested in hearing your opinions about a few of the cases. You can comment directly below or send private comments to Gary@CleverThings.com

Today they heard an important case which I've been following regarding our 1st Amendment rights, but it may take several months before they reveal their final decision. The case is about a church of disgusting psychos in Kansas who protest with hateful signs and who love the attention they get from protesting at military funerals. I'm not going to say their name because I don't want them to get any more publicity. Why do I call them "disgusting psychos"? They disgust me for holding protests at the funerals of soldiers who died giving them the very right to protest. I call them psychos because you have to be somewhat deranged to purposefully piss off a bunch of veterans. They hold signs that say "God hates ....", "God hates America", "Thank God for dead soldiers", "God blows up the troops", and so on. The matter before the court is how to balance the free speech rights of the church against the free speech rights of the grieving families holding the funeral.

The "church" was sued by the family after they held a protest at their son's funeral and they won the case. A jury found them guilty of invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy. The family was awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages, plus $8 million in punitive damages. A court later reduced the amount to $5 million, and after an appeal a third court reversed the judgement and said the decision violated their 1st Amendment rights.

My personal view is that they should have the right to protest, but not at or near a funeral. We have to be very careful when restricting 1st Amendment rights, and as much as I dislike this group - I don't want to see them lose their rights. There is a time and place for everything, and a funeral is not the time or place for this. So, how far away should they be? Should it be illegal to protest at funerals?

I'm also following the case regarding California's Prop 8 ban on gay marriage. Two opening briefs have been filed with the court of appeals, but I expect the case to end up before the Supreme Court before it is finally resolved. So far, the arguments in support of the law have not been impressive. If you follow the logic given, then most marriages would be considered illegal. If the sole interest of the state is in procreation, then wouldn't any marriage that doesn't produce children be illegal? Shouldn't unmarried couples with children be forced to marry? Shouldn't it then be illegal for families with children to divorce? As I said earlier, you have to be very careful any time you start restricting rights or it can backfire on you. The case is on the docket of the appeals court, so we will see what happens.

Another important case that might make it to the Supreme Court has to do with the trials of terror suspects. A court just barred testimony from a key government witness and ruled evidence obtained under duress (torture) is not admissible. Anyone trained with interrogation skills can tell you that torture is not necessary. When you intimidate a witness enough, they will tell you anything you want to hear. Those statements made under duress undermine the credibility of any testimony that may have been truthful. My definition of torture is quite simple - if a method used is not torture, then let me do it to you. For some reason, Bush never took me up on my offer... It will be interesting to see what happens to the rest of the terrorist trials after this decision. If we truly believe in our system of justice, why are we afraid to use it for these trials? Is it ever okay to suspend Habeas Corpus or the right to a fair and speedy trial? Which is more harmful to our country - terrorist acts or abandoning our governing principles whenever it is convenient?

Another issue that may work through the upper court system is regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Even though the courts have ruled the policy violates the Constitution, the Senate refuses to even debate the issue. I recently got a comment that said, "I wish they would repeal the policy just so you will shut up about it!" I honestly thought it would be settled after the House passed the repeal and the Senate scheduled a vote on it - but I was wrong. I've discussed the issue enough already, but I do have a new thought about it: Is Congress and the President partially responsible for all of the recent suicides by our gay youth? We may tell them it is okay to be yourself and to be proud, but what message are we sending when we say they aren't fit for military service? Or, you can serve but you have to lie about it. When is it EVER a good idea to lie? (okay, except when the question is Does this dress make me look fat?) Just something to think about....

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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