Saturday, December 18, 2010

DADT Vote Already Having Repercussions at Ivy League Universities

As many of you know, because of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, many Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale refused to have ROTC programs on their campuses. Now that that reason is on its way out, these universities are become more open to the prospect of allowing such programs.

From Politico,

The ROTC programs have been absent from a number of Ivy League and other leading campuses since the Vietnam War, and many schools subsequently linked programs' return to open service for gays and lesbians. The vote, said Columbia University President Lee Bollinger, provides "the opportunity for a new era in the relationship between universities and our military services."
"This is an historic development for a nation dedicated to fulfilling its core principle of equal rights. It also effectively ends what has been a vexing problem for higher education, including at Columbia -- given our desire to be open to our military, but not wanting to violate our own core principle against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," he said in a statement through a spokesman.
Harvard University President Drew Faust today signaled that she would move to restore ROTC to the campus. 
"Because of today's action by the Senate, gay and lesbian Americans will now also have the right to pursue this honorable calling, and we as a nation will have the benefit of their service," she said in a statement through a spokesman. "I look forward to pursuing discussions with military officials and others to achieve Harvard's full and formal recognition of ROTC."
A spokesman for Yale University also suggested that change may be coming soon.
"We are aware of the vote and have plans in consideration," said Yale spokesman Thomas Mattia in an email. 
A Stanford official declined to comment for the record but noted that the school's Faculty Senate is already reviewing the restoration of ROTC, a process that began last "in part in anticipation of the 'Don't ask Don't tell' issue," and is due to consider a report and recommendation in the next few months.

DADT is History!! Final Vote: 65-31

Don't Ask Don't Tell is officially a thing of the past - at least legislatively. In a vote of 65-31, the Senate voted to repeal the law, giving the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff the ability to implement integration of openly gay servicemen and women into the armed forces. Congrats to all of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in the military who are on the way to being able to serve with openness and honesty!!

Now all that is left is for the repeal bill, which has passed the House and the Senate, to be signed into law by the President!!

Vote Breakdown: Eight Republicans voting for repeal were: Murkowski (AK), Brown (MA), Voinovich (OH), Collins and Snowe (ME), Kirk (IL), Ensign (NV), Burr (NC). One Democrat - Manchin (WV) did not vote as he had to attend a holiday function. But he most likely would have not voted for the repeal as he has come out and said that he was against repeal.

DADT Final Repeal Vote Scheduled for 3pm Today!!

From CTV...
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the Senate will take a final vote Saturday afternoon on legislation that would overturn the U.S. military's ban on openly gay troops. 
The vote on ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy is set for 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) before senators turn to a nuclear arms treaty with Russia. Passage would send the military measure to the White House.
Normally, after a cloture vote, there is a 30hr waiting period before the bill can again be brought up before the full Senate for a vote. Only the minority party can waive this 30hr waiting period, which they have. Thus the historical vote will happen in less than 2 hrs!!

Because the procedural vote went my opinion there is no reason to worry that this final vote will not make DADT a thing of the past.

DADT repeal passes the Senate procedural vote!!! Breakdown of who voted!!

Just in...Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal just passed the Senates procedural vote. In a very very close vote of 63-33 (procedurally speaking of course) the repeal passed. All I can say is Wooohooo!!

Fifty Seven Democrats and six Republicans voted for cloture. On the Republican side it was Scott Brown (MA) Lisa Murkowski (AK) Olympia Snow (ME) Susan Collins (ME) Mark Kirk (IL) and George Voinovitch (OH).

If you live in any of their jurisdictions, make sure to call or write to them, thanking them for their votes!

Absent from the vote was Democratic Senator Joe Manchin (WV) - who opposed repeal - as well as Republicans Orrin Hatch (UT), Judd Gregg (NH), and Jim Bunning (KY).

Friday, December 17, 2010

Once the Judges go...the state descends into tyranny.

     Yikes, its been over a month since I have last posted - looking more like almost two, but there has been good reason. This semester kicked my butt, but no worries...I was able to pull it off with pretty good marks. Next semester I will have no excuse not to blog more (hopefully every day), and so this right here starts my "new era" of blogging.

    For the past few months I have been keeping a close eye on the situation that has been transpiring in Iowa. Because of one of the classes that I was taking - in rights protection and the judiciary - I was particularly interested in the ousting of three of the seven judges that legalized gay marriage in that State. Subsequently, there has been a lawsuit filed challenging judicial selection, a lawsuit challenging the retention vote (saying that it violated the Iowa Constitution), and a drive to begin articles of impeachment against the remaining judges who voted to approve gay marriage. The fact that the public is having this large of an impact in the judiciary is exciting, for it is showing that Iowans are more interested in politics, but at the same time, is leading down a dangerous road towards an erosion of our republican ideals.

    All of these issues show that the judiciary is by far the least known about and appreciated branch of American Government. The judiciary, as evolved to its present day form, is obligated to ensure that laws pass Constitutional muster, through a process known as Judicial Review. This concept, explained further here, was established by Chief Justice John Marshal in the case Marbury v. Madison. It was Judicial Review that the Iowa Supreme Court in its ruling on marriage equality was using to strike down the gendered marriage law in that State.

    Why do I bring this up? Why is this concept of Judicial Review so important? It is through Judicial Review that an act of the popularly elected Congress can be struck down as Unconstitutional. For the Courts to legitimately exercise this power, they must be kept secluded from the whims of the legislature - and by extrapolation the whims of the people that elect them. It is for this reason that the developments in Iowa are disturbing. For as the November election showed, an unpopular opinion can lead to judges losing their position on the bench. Thus, for fear of their jobs, judges may take the easy option out; just don't make any controversial judgments. This allows for the populous to ignore Constitutional principles in its drive to have majority rule.

     This leads me to my second main point. Many Americans foolishly think that we live in a society that is a democracy, and that the peoples vote matters. Though the peoples vote does matter, it is not absolute; in fact it may be limited when it comes against the other foundation of our republic; The Rule of Law. The rule of law ensures is what both the U.S. Government and the individuals that make up the United States are subject too. We find this Rule of Law in our Constitution, as well as in the Constitutions of the fifty states. The judiciary is in place to ensure that the people and the government obey this rule of law set out in our Constitutions. Thus, when the Iowa Supreme Court invalidated the gendered marriage law in the States, they did so because it violated the Rule of Law. The people, in their passion, on the other hand; foolishly believing that their votes make the laws, voted out those individuals who were only upholding the true Rule of Law. This is damning for the concept of a Judiciary whose job it is to uphold this Rule; since if their judgments are deemed "unacceptable" by the passionate and (in my opinion) uneducated populous, they can be eliminated.

In Iowa, it now must be asked, is the Rule of Law supreme, as it is supposed to be, or are the wild passions of an electorate and a legislature now in control?

For your benefit, below is the full text of the Iowa's Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Note their reliance on the Constitution (the Rule of Law if you will).

Iowa Supreme Court Ruling legalizing gay marriage in Iowa
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