What an interesting day.
It started, in the wee hours of the night, with an amazing scene in the Texas legislature over a bill that would have closed almost all the abortion clinics in Texas. A thirteen hour filibuster by State Senator Wendy Davis (where she not allowed to eat or even go to the bathroom) is halted with minutes to go. The Republicans force a vote, but in the ensuing chaos can’t get it done until after the deadline (with reports that they tried to change the date to make it legal).
Next, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote, declares the main part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. This one seemed like a no-brainer to me. The constitution does not give the federal government any right to regulate marriage, and yet DOMA required that the feds ignore marriages between same sex couples, even if they were performed in a state where they are legal (same sex marriage is legal in twelve states plus DC). The court ruled that this violated the right to equal protection under the law. I’m really curious how four conservative justices, who claim to be strict constructionists, justified voting against this obvious conclusion.
And finally, the Supreme Court struck down an appeal in support of California’s Prop 8, which means that gay marriage will again be legal there. This one was done on a technicality, with the Supreme Court ruling that the private sponsors of the appeal did not have legal standing. Interestingly, even though this was another 5-4 decision, it was not along the usual lines, with conservatives Roberts and Scalia voting with the majority, while Kennedy (who wrote the majority opinion that overturned DOMA) and liberal Sotomayor dissenting.