Tag Archives: law

Tell Your Senator: Just Say No To CISPA

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image says Stop CISPALast week the US House passed the The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and like all of these types of bills that have come through Congress, this bill only seems to protect businesses at the expense of people’s rights. It also gives more power to the Government to violate your 4th amendment rights in the name of “cybersecurity”. The White House has threatened to veto the law but now is the time to contact your Senator and tell them to say no to CISPA.
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So when are we suppose to be protected from the tyranny of the majority?

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The California State Supreme Court ruled today that Prop 8, which made gay marriage illegal, was a valid voter directed exception to their state’s equal protection law. It said it wasn’t rulling on whether the change was good for the people of the state but just if all the i’s were dotted and t’s were crossed legally. They said it had. So I guess as long as a majority follow the proper rules and processes they can decide what rights other minority groups have. Why does that seem wrong to me?

The ruling today sets out two items that caught my eye:

The 136-page majority opinion notes at the outset that the court’s role is not to determine whether Proposition 8 “is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals believe it should be a part of the California Constitution,” but rather “is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.”

The opinion further emphasizes that the principal legal issue in this case is entirely distinct from the issue that was presented in the court’s decision last year in In re Marriage Cases (2008) 43 Cal.4th 757. There, the court was called upon to determine “the validity (or invalidity) of a statutory provision limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman under state constitutional provisions that do not expressly permit or prescribe such a limitation.” In the present case, by contrast, the principal issue “concerns the scope of the right of the people, under the provisions of the California Constitution, to change or alter the state Constitution itself through the initiative process so as to incorporate such a limitation as an explicit section of the state Constitution.”

From the Judicial Council

What that means is the court only looked at the technical aspects of the Proposition, was the various rules and processes followed for the initiative.

Then court then rules:

The majority opinion next addresses and rejects the Attorney General’s claim that because article I, section 1 of the California Constitution characterizes certain rights including the right of privacy as “inalienable,” Proposition 8 is invalid because it abrogates such rights without a compelling interest.

The opinion explains that not only does Proposition 8 not “abrogate” the aspect of the right of privacy discussed in the majority opinion in the Marriage Cases, but that the identification of a right as “inalienable” has never been understood to mean that such right is exempt from any limitation or to preclude the adoption of a constitutional amendment that restricts the scope of such a right. The opinion emphasizes that there is no authority to support the Attorney General’s theory.

So basically in California, if you can get enough people to agree with you, you could stop women from voting, blacks from living anywhere they choose, atheists from holding elected office, or allowing a newspaper to publish what it wants to.

One could say the majority couldn’t do those things and that probably is correct since many of things are protected rights under Federal law, but it highlights what can happen for those actions dimished by majority view that aren’t protected under Federal law like same-sex marriage. How about if there is a state law prohibiting red hair color, left hand users, or limits computer usage?

So why isn’t same-sex marriage protected from the tyranny of the majority? The California court said it is no different than heterosexual marriage only due to Prop 8 you can’t call it marriage.

How stupid is that? The court upholds the law to ban gay relationships from being called marriage yet says they still have the same rights as marriage and the ones that took place before November when the law passed are still valid.

That’s why I prefer the way the US Constitution is amended. The process can be complecated and hard but is less subject to knee-jerk reaction like the zelots who needed to impose their religion on others by not allowing other people to call their committed relationship – marriage.

There really are two Americas

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While writing about the current economic melt down, I’ve mentioned that the douchebags on Wall Street that ran the economy into the ground operated under different rules than what we regular Americans do. The fact that the bankers want the taxpayer to pay for their toxic assets for a value more than the paper they are written on should be a clue. Columnist David Sirota points out even a more obvious example and one that seems to have removed the rose colored glasses from the masses, who have acted like they’ve never noticed this before. His column talks about the foundation of business – the contract.

Last month, the same government that says it “cannot just abrogate” executives’ bonus contracts used its leverage to cancel unions’ wage contracts. As The Wall Street Journal reported, federal loans to GM and Chrysler were made contingent on those manufacturers shredding their existing labor pacts and “extract(ing) financial concessions from workers.” In other words, our government asks us to believe that it possesses total authority to adjust contracts at car companies it lends to, and yet has zero power to modify contracts at financial firms it owns. This, even though the latter set of covenants might be easily abolished.

A government of men, not laws

That’s right. Contracts to pay bonuses to the douchebags who ran the economy into the ground were off limits while there is nothing wrong in throwing out labor contracts as a condition for automakers to get a loan.

Sirota also mentioned this double standard applied to mortgages:

Congressional Republicans have long supported the laws letting bankruptcy courts annul mortgage contracts for vacation homes. Those statutes help the shower-before-work clique at least retain their beachside villas, no matter how many of their speculative Ponzi schemes go bad. But for those who shower after work, it’s Adams-esque bromides against “absolving borrowers of their personal responsibility,” as the GOP announced it will oppose legislation permitting bankruptcy judges to revise mortgage contracts for primary residences.

It was equally unfunny when some talking head on CNBC recently noted that you couldn’t get anyone to run the financial industry for less than $250,000 a year. He forgot that the ones making that cash didn’t do a good job of it either. That’s why they are trying to snooker us into a bad deal on those toxic assets.

New Orleans residents who had insurance policies that excluded water damage lose in court

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Saw this on the net today:

ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS — Hurricane Katrina victims whose homes and businesses were destroyed when floodwaters breached levees in the 2005 storm cannot recover money from their insurance companies for the damages, a federal appeals court ruled today.

“This event was excluded from coverage under the plaintiffs’ insurance policies, and under Louisiana law, we are bound to enforce the unambiguous terms of their insurance contracts as written,” Judge Carolyn King wrote for a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As a result, the panel found those who filed the suit “are not entitled to recover under their policies,” she said.

More than a dozen insurance companies, including Allstate and Travelers, were defendants.

The decision overturns a ruling by U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr., who in November sided with policyholders arguing that language excluding water damage from some of their insurance policies was ambiguous.

Duval said the policies did not distinguish between floods caused by an act of God — such as excessive rainfall — and floods caused by an act of man, which would include the levee breaches following Katrina’s landfall.

But the appeals panel concluded that “even if the plaintiffs can prove that the levees were negligently designed, constructed, or maintained and that the breaches were due to this negligence, the flood exclusions in the plaintiffs’ policies unambiguously preclude their recovery.”

Court rules against Katrina victims in flood insurance case

Who in their right mind would NOT buy insurance that covers flood damage if you live in a flood prone area like the bowl we call New Orleans?

No one would.

Then again, if you live in a flood prone area – you can’t get regular insurance coverage for water damage. You must buy flood insurance from the federal government.

My guess is average people don’t know that and I also guess that some of that info may have been withheld so the broker could make a sale on the policy. It wouldn’t be the first time.