Law and Justice

WTF?

Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, the powerful chairman of the House intelligence committee and a former FBI agent, announced on Friday morning that he is leaving Congress at the end of his term to start a conservative talk radio show.

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Maryland set to protect transgender people from discrimination

On Tuesday the Maryland Senate approved the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 which would expand Maryland's anti-discrimination laws to add transgender people to the list of classes of people protected against discrimination in housing, employment, access to credit, and public accommodations. The bill exempts religious organizations, private clubs, educational institutions, small businesses and owner-occupied rentals.

There was virtually no debate on the bill, though Anne Arundel Republican Bryan W. Simonaire tried to raise "the bathroom question."

Baltimore CIty, Baltimore County, Howard County and Montgomery County all have protections against disrimination on the basis of gender identity and officials in those locales say they have had no complaints concerning restroom usage.

The bill passed by a margin of 32-15, with four democrats (John Astle (Anne Arundel), James E. DeGrange Sr. (Anne Arundel), Roy P. Dyson (Southern Maryland), James N. Mathias Jr. (Lower Eastern Shore) joining the mostly republican opposition. Howard County Republican Allan H. Kittleman, on the other hand, spoke in support of the bill.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr (D-Montgomery).

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To the Sycophantic Morons Barking About the Courts to Get You to Vote

Guess what? So far, just 10 of Obama's judicial nominations, and less than 4%, have worked as lawyers at public interest organizations, according to this report from Alliance for Justice (pdf). It also shows that only 10 nominees have had experience representing workers in labor disputes. 85% have been either corporate attorneys or prosecutors. Yeah....your pseudo knowledge of civics sure showed us the importance of this issue:

"OMGZ vote! The SCOTUS and the courts, stupid!"

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Maine Supreme Court: Transgender students must have full access toschool facilities

 photo NicoleMaines_zpscd10d3e5.jpgThe Maine Supreme Judicial Court has finally ruled in the case of Doe v Clenchy (pdf). The ruling was that denying Nicole Maines (aka Susan Doe) the use of the girls' restroom of her school violated her rights under Maine's Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. The ruling was the first time that any state court has ruled that transgender students must be allowed to use the restrooms that match their gender.

[The school] agreed with Susan’s family and counselors that, for this purpose (as for virtually all others), Susan is a girl.  Based upon its determination that Susan is a girl, and in keeping with the information provided to the school by Susan’s family, her therapists, and experts in the field of transgender children, the school determined that Susan should use the girls’ bathroom.

This is a momentous decision that marks a huge breakthrough for transgender young people. Schools have a responsibility to create a learning environment that meets and balances the needs of all kids and allows every student to succeed. For transgender students this includes access to all school facilities, programs, and extracurricular activities in a way that is consistent with their gender identity.

--Jennifer Levi, director GLAD Transgender Rights Project

Ms. Levi argued the case before the Maine Law Court on June 12.

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Economic Populist: Orwell's Catastrophic Gradualism and 0.1% Apologetic

My attention was just brought to this essay by George Orwell (h/t geomoo, "Catastrophic Gradualism".

The essay is reflecting upon a reaction to the work of Arthur Koestler by Mr. Kingsley Martin, but before launching into that exchange, Orwell lays the foundation for what he means by "Catastrophic Gradualism":

At present this theory is most often used to justify the Stalin regime in the USSR, but it obviously could be—and, given appropriate circumstances, would be—used to justify other forms of totalitarianism. It has gained ground as a result of the failure of the Russian Revolution—failure, that is, in the sense that the Revolution has not fulfilled the hopes that it aroused twenty-five years ago. In the name of Socialism the Russian regime has committed almost every crime that can be imagined, but at the same time its evolution is away from Socialism, unless one re-defines that word in terms that no Socialist of 1917 would have accepted. To those who admit these facts, only two courses are open. One is simply to repudiate the whole theory of totalitarianism, which few English intellectuals have the courage to do: the other is to fall back on Catastrophic Gradualism. The formula usually employed is “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.” And if one replies, “Yes, but where is the omelette?”, the answer is likely to be: “Oh well, you can’t expect everything to happen all in a moment.”

For someone of my generation, on the trailing edge of the Baby Boomers or the leading edge of Generation X (and those kinds of boundaries are intrinsically ambiguous because generational cohorts are defined by their core rather than by their boundaries), the first reaction is that visiting the past is visiting a different country. Imagining a time and place when such arguments would be used to defend Stalin's Soviet Union is a bit mind boggling. But then, using the essay as a prism to look back with fresh eyes to the current time and place ... maybe not so mind boggling after all.

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Greenwald: Obama's NSA 'reforms' are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public

From The Guardian:

And now we have the spectacle of President Obama reciting paeans to the values of individual privacy and the pressing need for NSA safeguards. "Individual freedom is the wellspring of human progress," he gushed with an impressively straight face. "One thing I'm certain of, this debate will make us stronger," he pronounced, while still seeking to imprison for decades the whistleblower who enabled that debate. The bottom line, he said, is this: "I believe we need a new approach."

But those pretty rhetorical flourishes were accompanied by a series of plainly cosmetic "reforms". By design, those proposals will do little more than maintain rigidly in place the very bulk surveillance systems that have sparked such controversy and anger.

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Maryland to give it another try

On Tuesday Maryland state Senator Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) introduced another bill that would outlaw discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation against individuals on the basis of their gender identity.

A similar bill last year died in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee by a vote of 6-5 in March. Proponents of the bill feel optimistic this year, citing cultural progress and the endorsement of some key political figures.

I am very hopeful. Given the way our culture has changed in a progressive direction in Maryland and given the support we now have from the Senate and House leadership we will get the votes in the Judicial Proceedings Committee to move the bill.

--Dana Beyers, executive director of Gender Rights Maryland

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Gender Prison: Transgender People and the Police (3 stories)

The Philadelphia Police Department is implementing a new set of guidelines which instruct officers on how to interact with transgender people. The nine pages of guidelines were developed by Deputy Commisioner Kevin Bethel, working in concert with members of the Philadelphia GLBT community.

The times have evolved, and not just within the Police Department.. You see it across the board in so many different areas. We have to learn to adapt to the times.

--Lt. John Stanford, police spokesman

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Gender Prison: 20 years

Twenty years ago today.

It was the morning of New Year's Eve, 1993, when Lisa Lambert's mother found the bodies of her daughter and her friends Brandon Teena and Philip DeVine in the house she rented in near Falls City in Richardson County, NE. Lisa's son, Tanner, was crying in his crib.

The cause of the triple murder at its base surrounded the identity of Teena. Although Brandon dated women and had a Nebraska ID card which categorized him as a male, was born a female named Teena Renae Brandon in 1972 in Lincoln.

For many Americans, Brandon Teena's death was their first introduction to transgender issues, and 20 years later, we still see alarmingly high rates of violence directed toward transgender people.

--Michael Silverman, Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund

Brandon's struggles are not that uncommon still today.

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One more legal ruling on same-sex marriage…this time from Indiana

I am sure you have seen the stories about the recent legal rulings about same-sex marriage in New Mexico, Utah and Ohio.

But there has been one case that has so far snuck beneath the radar. I was planning on covering it last Tuesday, but came down sick with the flu. I'm still sick, but a bit better.

This case comes out of southern Indiana. David Paul Summers and Angela Summers married in Brown County, IN on October 30, 1999. During the marriage Mr. Summers was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Mr. Summers then decided to transition and legally changed his name to Melanie Davis in 2005. A Marion County judge ordered the gender on Davis' birth certificate changed from "male" to "female" in 2008 to conform with her gender identity, legal name and appearance.

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