Day: July 23, 2013

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As we reported in this space last week, the General Assembly is advancing a last-minute “regulatory reform” bill in the session’s waning days that is chock-full of dozens of special favors to industry lobbyists, including several new provisions to further restrict environmental protection.

Today, however, advocates discovered yet another hidden gem in the bill – a provision that will prevent forward-thinking local governments (like Asheville and Durham) from requiring contractors to treat workers decently. Read More

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With a legislative agenda here that’s on the fast track to litigation, it’s worth noting how the courts are handling similar challenges elsewhere.

Yesterday, a federal  judge in North Dakota blocked that state’s recently enacted ban on most abortions, describing that law as “in direct contradiction to a litany of United States Supreme Court cases addressing restraints on abortion.”

U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland issued a temporary injunction delaying enforcement of that ban until the challenge could be resolved at trial, saying that he had no choice but to block the law. “The State has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women,” he wrote.

And on Monday in Ohio, a federal judge ordered state officials to recognize the unions of same-sex couples who were married in other states but live in Ohio.

According to Lyle Denniston at scotusblog, U.S. District Judge Timothy S. Black conceded in his ruling that the Supreme Court’s decision last month in United States v. Windsor did not directly involve state power to ban same-sex marriages. But he said that the Court’s ruling was pointing toward that issue and applied some of its equality principles in support of his order.

This is not a complicated case. The issue is whether the State of Ohio can discriminate against same sex marriages lawfully solemnized out of state, when Ohio law has historically and unambiguously provided that the validity of a marriage is determined by whether it complies with the law of the jurisdiction where it was celebrated.

Throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio law has been clear: a marriage solemnized outside of Ohio is valid in Ohio if it is valid where solemnized. Thus, for example, under Ohio law, out-of-state marriages between first cousins are recognized by Ohio, even though Ohio law does not authorize marriages between first cousins. Likewise, under Ohio law, out of state marriages of minors are recognized by Ohio, even though Ohio law does not authorize marriages of minors.

How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single out same sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot … at least not under the circumstances here.

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Just when you thought the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly had hit rock bottom, it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse. Click here to see the worse-than-anyone-would-have-ever-imagined voter suppression bill that has emerged in the state Senate. The new 57 page proposal will be heard this afternoon at 2:00 pm in the Senate Rules Committee.

According to good government advocates who have gotten a chance to examine the proposal after obtaining a copy last night, the bill includes dozens of disastrous provisions including:

  • no more pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds
  • no more paid voter registration drives
  • elimination of same day voter registration Read More