FRC Blog

David Souter: Unsung and Unhung

by Robert Morrison

May 29, 2009

Nineteen years on the U.S. Supreme Court and David Souter retires like Rodney Dangerfield: He gets no respect. When the liberal press does praise him, it’s for his logic. Really? Let’s parse the premier sample of his logic. He’s credited with the co-authorship of what has been termed the “Mystery of Life” passage in the 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey:

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Justice Scalia has made wicked sport of this passage. “Ah, the sweet mystery of life passage…” he says—and then he pounces: “…the passage that ate the rule of law.” Ate it, the co-authors-Souter, O’Connor, and Kennedy—did indeed.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

May 28, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Same-Sex Marriage is Not Like Interracial Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

May 27, 2009

On May 27, prominent attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies (best known as one another’s opponents in Bush v. Gore, the court case regarding the disputed 2000 presidential election) announced that on May 22 they had filed a federal lawsuit seeking to establish a right to same-sex “marriage” nationwide under the U. S. Constitution.

In a press release and press conference, they cited as precedent the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia, which struck down laws against interracial marriage (Loving v. Virginia, 388 U. S., 12; online ). They claimed that because of this precedent, homosexuals must be “guaranteed the right to marry the person they love.”

However, the U. S. Supreme Court in Loving never described the issue in that case as an unrestricted “right to marry the person they love.” Instead, it said that “the freedom of choice to marry [cannot] be restricted by invidious racial discrimination.”

The comparison between interracial marriage and same-sex “marriage” was concisely refuted in a 2003 Indiana court decision rejecting the claim of a right to homosexual “marriage.” As the judge noted,

Unlike anti-miscegenation laws, restrictions against same-sex marriage reinforce, rather than disrupt, the traditional understanding of marriage as a unique relationship between a woman and a man. Marriage traditionally and definitionally has had to do with the sex of each participant… . Anti-miscegenation laws, because they interfered with the traditional marriage relationships in pursuit of opprobrious racial segregation policies, had no legitimate connection to the institution of marriage itself. Loving in no way held that the right to marry means the right to marry whomever one wishes. Its import is far more focused: that whatever else marriage is about, it is not about racial segregation. (Morrison v. Sadler, Marion County, Indiana Superior Court, May 7, 2003; online)

The strong legal basis for the distinction was described by another court that rejected a homosexual challenge to marriage laws, this one in New Jersey:

Plaintiffs’ reliance on decisions striking down statutes that prohibit interracial marriage is misplaced. These decisions derive from Constitutional amendments prohibiting racial discrimination and subjecting laws that classify individuals based on race to the highest level of scrutiny. No similar Constitutional provisions outlaw statutory classifications based on sexual orientation … . Comparing the State’s marriage statutes to laws perpetuating racial prejudice, therefore, is inapposite.

Individuals challenging bans on interracial marriage had a powerful weapon: Federal Constitutional provisions, passed by Congress and adopted by State Legislatures, that expressly prohibited States from denying recognized rights based on race. It was entirely appropriate for the courts to enforce those duly enacted Constitutional provisions by striking down statutes that made race a qualifying condition for access to a recognized right to marry. Plaintiffs, on the other hand, assert their claims in the absence of express Constitutional provisions supporting their position, and ask the court to circumvent the Legislative process by creating a right that has never before been recognized in this country.

The mandate for racial equality is firmly enshrined in both the Federal and State Constitutions. Importantly, two amendments to the United States Constitution expressly address racial equality [the 13th and 14th]… .

The Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia is predicated entirely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition of racial classifications… .

No similar Constitutional provision accords heightened protection to individuals who claim that statutes discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation… .

… [P]laintiffs … lack the significant legal foundation that was available to the plaintiffs in Loving to demand judicial recognition of the rights they seek.

(Lewis v. Harris, Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County, November 5, 2003; online )

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The Associate Justice from Cardinal Spellman?

by Michael Fragoso

May 27, 2009

Say what you will about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, her personal story is a compelling one. From the sickly daughter of a widow in the South Bronx projects to the Pyne Prize at Princeton, the Yale Law School, and almost two decades as a federal judge is a remarkable journey. Yet, one should ask how much of Judge Sotomayor’s success “against-the-odds” came from her high-quality preparation at in the Catholic school system. Would her story have turned out differently had she attended a soon-to-be-blighted South Bronx public high school rather than the rigorous Cardinal Spellman?

That said, how many future Sonia Sotomayors are among the 1,715 DC students currently enrolled in private and parochial schools through the DC Opportunity Scholarship voucher program? How many will still be given the same chance to excel once the program is terminated in 2010? If President Obama is serious about the importance of Judge Sotomayor’s biography, he should work even harder to make sure that DC children from similar backgrounds can have the same opportunities.

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Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

May 27, 2009

Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

May 27, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Two Parents = Fewer Calls Home from School about Children’s Behavior Problems

by Michael Leaser

May 26, 2009

In the latest Mapping America, the National Survey of Children’s Health shows that children who live with both biological parents or two adoptive parents are less likely to have their school report behavior problems to their parents than are children who live in households that do not include both parents.

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Sotomayor: A Policy Maker or a Jurist?

by JP Duffy

May 26, 2009

Here is Tony Perkins’ statement on President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sotomayer. Her record makes one wonder… is she a legislator or a jurist?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 26, 2009 CONTACT: J.P. Duffy or Maria Donovan, (866) FRC-NEWS

Sotomayor: A Policy Maker or a Jurist?

Washington, D.C.- This morning President Obama announced his nominee to the nation’s highest court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Family Research Council Action President Tony Perkins released the following statement:

President Obama has chosen a nominee with a compelling personal story over a judicial pick with a solid constitutional judicial philosophy. A compelling personal story is no substitute for allegiance to the Constitution and its sound application to public life.

Judge Sotomayor’s failure to premise her decisions on the text of the Constitution has resulted in an extremely high rate of reversal before the high court to which she has been nominated.

With that fact in mind Judge Sotomayor appears to subscribe to a very liberal judicial philosophy that considers it appropriate for judges to impose their personal views from the bench. President Obama promised us a jurist committed to the ‘rule of law,’ but, instead, he appears to have nominated a legislator to the Supreme Court.

For example, in 2001 when delivering the Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California-Berkeley Law School, Sotomayor stated: ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.’

Needless to say, that statement is troubling - if not offensive - on many levels. As the distinguished legal reporter Stuart Taylor of the National Journal observed about that speech and of Sotomayor, ‘her thinking is representative of the Democratic Party’s powerful identity-politics wing.’

In a 2005 panel discussion at the Duke University Law School that can be seen on YouTube and cable news channels, the judge stated that the U.S. Court of Appeals is ‘where policy is made.’

With all due respect to Judge Sotomayor, our constitution states otherwise and public surveys indicate that the American public understands this constitutional principle and want judges who interpret the law and do not act as life-tenured judicially empowered social workers.

The Family Research Council expects the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the entire Senate to fully examine and publicly present an accurate picture of Judge Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy to the American public before they vote on her nomination.”

-30-

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

May 26, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Update on iPS Cells

by David Prentice

May 26, 2009

In case you haven’t kept track (very hard to do with this area), there are an increasing number of publications detailing the advantages of iPS cells (induced pluripotent stem cells) over ES cells (embryonic stem cells).

iPS cells provide a relatively easy and inexpensive method for creation of ES-type cells directly from virtually any tissue source or individual. They were first developed in 2006 in mice by the Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka, and in November 2007 both Yamanakas lab and the lab of James Thomson in the U.S. showed that this same technique could work for human cells as well.

The original Yamanaka reprogramming technique involved adding four genes directly to a human cell such as a skin fibroblast cell, with the genes added using a viral vector. The technique has advanced rapidly in less than three years, and reprogramming of iPS cells has now been accomplished completely without the use of added DNA sequences, by using added protein reprogramming factors.

The behavior of iPS cells appears virtually indistinguishable from ES cells. Thomsons group in their seminal paper producing human iPS cells noted:

The human iPS cells described here meet the defining criteria we originally proposed for human ES cells, with the significant exception that the iPS cells are not derived from embryos.

Thomson has also pointed out the ethical advantage of iPS cells:

These cells possess the therapeutically desired characteristics of ES cells, namely indefinite self-renewal and pluripotency, without the requirement of human embryo destruction.

iPS cells fulfill the desire to create ES cells, with the added advantage of easy and cheap creation directly from a patient, and the potential for transplant match, but do all of this without the use of embryos, eggs, or cloning. Within one year of the first report of human iPS cells, at least 315 human iPS cell lines had been generated, and over 500 total human iPS cell lines have now been reported. In addition, iPS cell lines from patients suffering from various diseases have been created, covering 13 different diseases.

iPS cells provide all of the desired characteristics of pluripotent ES cells, and also distinct advantages in terms of their ethical creation as well as ease and cost of creation, and production directly from patients.

To see a semi-complete listing of recent iPS cell publications

To see a summary of human iPS cell lines created

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