Kennedy’s Ruling in the DOMA Case

I’m still reading Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case and I’m going to put some of my thoughts down here as I go. It’s important to remember that Kennedy was also the author of the two most important gay rights decisions in the history of the court, Romer v Evans and Lawrence v Texas, and this ruling draws quite clearly on his previous rulings on these questions. A couple of important ideas and themes in the new ruling come directly from the older rulings.
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A Soldier’s Suicide Note

Gawker publishes a letter written by Daniel Somers, a soldier who served in Iraq both as a machine gunner and as an interrogator, to his family before he killed himself only two weeks ago. It’s difficult to read without crying, though I don’t know why anyone would try to do so. What he says about the horrors of war, the guilt he feels for the things he did and the resulting PTSD is simply haunting.
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The Court’s Affirmative Action Ruling

The first of the four highly controversial Supreme Court rulings to be released this week (the other three being the Prop 8 case, the DOMA case and the Voting Rights Act case) was Fisher v University of Texas, which involved affirmative action in college admissions. Many liberals were afraid that the court would go all the way and forbid all consideration of race in college admissions, but the court did not go that far — and got a surprisingly broad 7-1 ruling (Kagan had recused herself) for a mixed result. Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor, explains what the ruling does:
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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Director of National Intelligence

James Clapper is the Director of National Intelligence and he’s been telling anyone who would listen that the NSA’s data mining program is perfectly fine and not at all a threat to your privacy. And just to show you that he’s an expert on threats, here’s one of his greatest hits from October 2003:
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Sensenbrenner on the Patriot Act

Rep. James Sensenbrenner has an op-ed in the Guardian about the recent revelations by that newspaper that the NSA is getting all the metadata on nearly every cell phone call in the country every day. There’s a lot of hypocritical partisan posturing in it, predictably, but the core seems undeniable to me:
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Victory in Both Marriage Equality Cases

The rulings in the two marriage equality cases came down very much like I expected, though with an unpredictable lineup in one of them. In United States v Windsor, the DOMA case, the court ruled 5-4 that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional and that the federal government must grant full recognition to all same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal. You can read that full ruling here. Kennedy wrote the opinion, joined by the four liberal justices on the court (Breyer, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan).
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