counter statistics

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Gay Rights Advances Likely In New Congress


Wary conservative leaders, as well as gay-rights advocates, share a belief that at least two measures will win approval this year: a hate-crimes bill that would cover offenses motivated by anti-gay bias, and a measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Also on the table — although with more doubtful prospects — will be a measure to be introduced Wednesday seeking repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy that bans openly gay and lesbian Americans from serving in the military.

All three measures surfaced in previous sessions of Congress, at times winning significant bipartisan backing but always falling short of final passage. This year, with Democrats now in control and many Republicans likely to join in support, the hate-crimes and workplace bills are widely expected to prevail.

"With liberals in control, there's a good possibility they'll both pass," said Matt Barber, a policy director with the conservative group Concerned Women for America. "They're both dangerous to freedom of conscience, to religious liberties, to free speech."

If approved by Congress, the bills would head to the White House. Activists on both the left and right are unsure whether
President Bush would sign or veto them.

For gay-rights leaders — whose efforts to legalize same-sex marriage have been rebuffed by many states — the congressional votes are keenly anticipated after years of lobbying.

"This is a major step in our struggle," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. "I know there's a lot of despair on the other side."

Both sides can't predict what President Bush will do:

Assuming ENDA and the hate-crimes bill win approval, but not by veto-proof margins, Bush would face a politically sensitive decision of how to respond.

"Does he want to use one of his first vetoes to deny basic job protection to people?" asked Dave Noble, public policy director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Mat Staver of the conservative [sic] legal group Liberty Counsel worried that Bush would not veto the bills, perhaps as a gesture of respect for Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Cheney.

However, Matt Barber of Concerned Women for America held out hope that Bush would block the measures. "Hopefully," Barber said, "the president will show that the veto pen is mightier than the politically correct sword."

The question is whether the Human Rights Campaign is seriously trying to engage President Bush now on these issues.

The Liberty Council, Concerned Women for America and the Family Research Council would be better described as "anti-gay activists" rather than "conservatives."

Friday, February 23, 2007

Al Franken Responds to Questions About His Joke About the Murder of a Gay Man

I went to Drinking Liberally last night. While there, I got the opportunity to meet Andy Birkey from Eleventh Avenue South and Minnesota Monitor. Al Franken was the special guest. I wasn't aware he was going to be there in advance. When Franken stopped by Andy and my table, I asked Franken what he meant by this comment in the Harvard Crimson.

"He [Al Franken] recalled writing a skit called 'Seamen on Broadway' that was rejected from the Hasty Pudding show 'by some preppie so they could take some other preppie's skit.' Franken started to smile again, but his tone was serious, too serious. 'It's not preppies, cause I'm a preppie myself. I just don't like homosexuals. If you ask me, they're all homosexuals in the Pudding. Hey, I was glad when that Pudding homosexual got killed in Philadelphia.' The smile became so broad it pushed his eyes shut. He couldn't stand it any longer. 'Put that in, put that in,' Franken laughed, leaning over the desk. 'I'd love to see that in The Crimson.'" Source: Harvard Crimson, April 16, 1976

Franken's answer was long and convoluted. I believe he was trying to say he was playing the part of a man who was a jerk in that interview, and the interview did not reflect his actual thoughts about gays. If Avidor had been there, we could have gotten this interview on tape.

Franken also made a point of letting Andy and I know his positions on gay marriage (he supports marriage equality) and also that he believes Don't Ask, Don't Tell needs to be overturned. I reminded Franken that Don't Ask, Don't Tell came from President Clinton.

Big Day in the News for Michele Bachmann Again

Check it out at the Strib's Big Question, Larry Schumacher's Capitol Cast and Dump Bachmann.

"Iran is the trouble maker, trying to tip over apple carts all over Baghdad right now because they want America to pull out. And do you know why? It's because they've already decided that they’re going to partition Iraq.

And half of Iraq, the western, northern portion of Iraq, is going to be called…. the Iraq State of Islam, something like that. And I'm sorry, I don't have the official name, but it's meant to be the training ground for the terrorists. There's already an agreement made.

They are going to get half of Iraq and that is going to be a terrorist safe haven zone where they can go ahead and bring about more terrorist attacks in the Middle East region and then to come against the United States because we are their avowed enemy."

Jason Lewis had a cow over this on his show, and denounced yours truly by name.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

OutFront Minnesota Finally Posts Information About the Municipal Domestic Partner Bill on Their Website


Health Benefits Legislation
Hailed by OutFront Minnesota

OutFront Minnesota praised the introduction of legislation in the Minnesota Legislature that would permit (but not require) local governments to provide benefits to their employees' domestic partners. The organization applauds the diverse and bipartisan group of nearly 30 lawmakers who’ve signed onto the bill in the House and Senate.

"We are very pleased that the Legislature will consider a bill to improve life for people in Minnesota by allowing municipalities to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees if they wish to," said OutFront Minnesota Executive Director Ann M. DeGroot. "This allows local governments to do what Minnesota's private employers have done for years – attract and retain the best workers for the job."

Currently, no local government can offer domestic partner benefits even if they wish to because of a 1995 Court of Appeals decision (Lilly v. City of Minneapolis, 527 N.W. 2d Minn.App. 1995). The court determined that the legislature did not intend to include domestic partner benefits when it allowed local governments to offer employee benefits packages. This legislation closes the gap in the law identified by the court.

I encourage people to contact Governor Tim Pawlenty and ask him to support this bill. You can reach Pawlenty's office at 651-296-3391.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Bill introduced that would allow local governments to provide domestic partner/designated beneficiary benefits

David Strand from Marriage Equality posted the following on a number of Minnesota gay lists:

HF 1097 & SF 0960 where introduced on Monday, Feb. 19th with some bi-partisan support. The bills would allow local governments to define "dependent" for purposes of group benefits for local government officers and employees.

Since a 1995 state supreme court decision, the city of Minneapolis has been prevented by a quirk in state law from providing domestic partnership benefits to it's employees and this bill would fix that problem as well as open the door for other communities to follow suit with domestic partner benefits or the broader designated beneficiary benefits for their employees

HF 1097 is authored by Rep. Davnie and coauthored by Reps. Hilty, Liebling, Tschumper, N. Peterson, Erhardt, Hilstrom, Kahn, Dill, Solberg, Simon, Clark, Bigham, E. Murphy, Hornstein, Walker, Paymar, Hausman, Carlson, Nelson, Atkins, Jaros, & Wagenius.

SF 0960 is authored by Sens. Higgins, Dibble, Koering, Sauxhaug, and Sieben.

Please call your state representative and state senator and ask them to support this legislation. It's critical that there be some political successes at the capital this year for issues relating to equality for same sex couples if there is ever going to be forward movement on broader legislation such as marriage equality legislation.

This is particularly true since the Republican controlled house succeeded just a few years ago in shutting down state government over the issue of domestic partnership benefits for state employees under Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Please call and thank your state senator or state representative if they are one of the authors listed above.

If you don't know who your state representative or state senator is or how to get ahold of them please go to or call (651) 296-2146 or 1 (800) 657-3550 or use
TTY: (651) 296-9896.

More of my thoughts on this bill follow below.


David Strand
Marriage Equality Minnesota

Passage of this bill would enable local governments to choose to offer domestic partner or designated beneficiary benefits to their employees. Whereas designated beneficiary benefits is the broadest and I believe fairest model, entitling each employee to designate one other adult as a beneficiary regardless of whether or not their relationship is spousal, conjugal, familial, philial or otherwise, I am pleased that this bill would allow local governments to make this choice rather than the more limited choice of domestic partner. The more folks who identify with a proposed benefit change the more support one may be able to garner for a change. On the other hand, financial cost of a proposed change increases with an increase in number of people possibly benefitting from change. Still, I believe we all have an interest in our public institutions setting a good example as employers and helping mainstream more equitable benefits for employees through designated beneficiary benefits.

The other nice thing about this bill is it localizes the issue. Locales around the state vary greatly in what would be the best strategic approach. In some locales domestic partnership benefits may be strategically smarter as a first step while in others designated beneficiaries eclipses an identification with glbt rights specifically through it's broad reach to all unmarried employees but nonetheless brings greater equity for same sex partners of employees without making that the primary focus as is often the case in debates over domestic partnership legislation.

These choices will be left to local communities and local activists under this legislation which I believe is the best way to broaden support for fairer employee benefit practices being practiced and modeled by our local governments.

What will Governor Pawlenty do?

Kudos to David Strand for letting us know about this. There's been no word from Outfront Minnesota on this or other issues.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Janet Boynes Has Testimonials from Mac Hammond and Other Living Word People

Michele Bachmann's African American, Ex-Lesbian Sidekick, Janet Boynes now has her own "ministry". She has a website to promote it, and her testimonials page says:

Janet is a composed and articulate speaker who ministers with understanding and compassion. Through her own personal experiences, she is able to show others how, through God's Word, they too can be set free. The effectiveness of her ministry stems from her knowledge of what draws a person into a homosexual lifestyle and what can be done to help them break free...I support the work of Janet's ministry and encourage others to have her come and share her testimony.

-Mac Hammond Senior Pastor Living Word Christian Center

Janet's life is a powerful testimony of the changes that Christ can bring through His healing power from the bondage of sin. To see Janet is to see the face of joy, freedom, and peace. I wish everyone could meet this dynamic, young, Christ-filled woman who has dedicated her life to spreading the joy that she has found in a deep relationship of forgiveness from the Father. I hope everyone listens closely to
Janet's compelling testimony.

-Minnesota State Senator Michele Bachmann

Janet has a life changing testimony that brings hope to every one that listens to her story. God has literally transformed her life from the inside out. Those who hear Janet's story are changed as they learn about her once broken life and the loving God who fixed it. As youth pastors, we have witnessed first hand how powerful Janet's life story can be. She has spoken several times to our youth group as well and we have also recommended her to others. At a time when the teens in our culture are being lied to on a continual basis, Janet is able to share truth. Her message is vital as many youth are struggling with their sexuality in a pro-homosexual society. She has personally lived John 8:32 "And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free".
-Pastors Jeff & Sunday Burquest
Senior High Youth Pastors Living Word Christian Center

KARE 11 Promises Report on Hennepin County Twins Stadium Fracas

Tuesday night 2/20, 10 pm broadcast. I heard a promo on the radio. Rick Kupchella asked 'Did you think the Twins stadium was a done deal? Think again.'

I wonder if we'll see flopsweat on Mike Opat's forehead.

And our Fake-Conservative Governor has supported expanded gambling.

Police: 10-year-old left at MOA while mom went to casino

Associated Press

Bloomington police were investigating a mother who allegedly left her 10-year-old son at the Mall of America while she went to a casino.

The boy was found wandering the mall unattended around 7:30 p.m. Friday. He had a wristband for unlimited rides at the mall's theme park, but said he hadn't eaten and didn't have any money.

Police Commander Jim Ryan said on Tuesday that after dropping the boy off at the mall, the mother took a noon shuttle bus to Mystic Lake casino in Prior Lake.

Ryan says the 41-year-old woman was paged at the casino, and when she was reached around 9:30 p.m., she said she didn't have a ride — and the next shuttle wasn't due until midnight.

Police took custody of the boy, who's now being cared for in a Minneapolis group home.

His mother could face possible child-endangerment charges, a gross misdemeanor.

Gambling has a corrosive impact on society and families. I am always intrigued when supposedly 'conservative' politicians wink and nod at the gambling industry as a potential revenue source.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Republican Leadership Summit

Andy Aplikowski from Residual Forces gives his take (part 1 and part 2).

From part 1:

Yesterday the Republican Party of Minnesota held a leadership summit. It was a chance for BPOU leaders and candidates to basically gripe about what they think went wrong in 2006. It was also a chance to offer advice. Time will tell if the task force committees were willing to pass along all ideas, or simply take their own advice, but we were given the opportunity.

The more important thing to be taken away from the meeting was the elected officials present and what they said. Reps. Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer the MN House minority leadership gave rousing speeches of how conservatism is not dead in Minnesota. Despite the sour news from certain Republicans, not everyone is willing to lay down to liberalism. Both House leaders reassured many that they will provide hope in the house.

Noticeably absent was Gov. Pawlenty, his staff, and any of his administration, but I can't say I am surprised. The Republican party is reeling from some of the decisions of Pawlenty, and his complete disregard for spending restraint are an insult to those of us who think we are over taxed. His spending of nearly the entire budget surplus is something many can't overlook, especially because it is to expand Government in Minnesota. But regardless of how many of the rank and file activists spoke out against Pawlenty's leadership (which everyone knew was going to happen), it is quite disturbing that none of Pawlenty's major staff was noticeable from my vantage point.

Pawlenty won statewide. None of the other statewide candidates won.

Andy continues:

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann stole the show from the podium. Her speech was both impassioned and on point. The audience was quite pleased by both her and Congressman Kline’s remarks on the the recent Congressional resolutions. They were the 2 bright spots in the darkness of defeat the US House of Representatives brought to light Friday. They are by far two Republicans who haven’t forgotten about what is right and wrong. They are not blinded by political expediency like some, and are grounded in their beliefs and values.

Which brings me to the other person who was very noticeably absent. Congressman Jim Ramstad skipped the meeting too, despite it being held in his very own District. He knows he has made a grave mistake in joining with the Defeatocrats on the resolution in the US House. He got that vote dead wrong, and he is giving aid and comfort to those who seek to defund the war against terror. I say he is ready for a challenger, at the very least to wake him up that he should have to earn endorsement and support from the right. (That is what that little (R) behind his name means.)

Norm Coleman voted the same on this. Others at this event were angry at Ramstad.

More from Andy:

All in all, it was less than a leadership summit and more of another bitch session. After the breakout sessions began, I floated from one to the other. I noticed that some people were just going from room to room to give the same speech, despite being off topic with the individual session. But I suppose that if the brighter points made, do trickle up to the top through the few party staffers and lone official (Seifert) who actually sat in to listen, it will have been worth it. (Forgive me if there were more present)

All in all, come Summer 2008, I feel little of this advice or their 'reforms' will matter much, if leadership is intact. Sorry, I don't see anything to sway my call for new leadership. Maybe it is because I am a skeptic, but I can hear the spin everytime serious complaints are raised about our problem being the elected leaders redefining our party as squishy from people. The incumbents run our party, despite the bases' desire for the opposite. With the RNC convention coming here next year, I expect them to fully dictate our operations.

You bet the national convention will be scripted. The demonstrations outside will serve as a foil, but the real concern would be having open discussion on the inside of the convention.

Over at the Stadium Booster Blog

Commenter Mark has the best idea.

Quoting Mining the Bible at Home Schoolers Creation Science Fair

Greg Laden visited this so-called "Science Fair" so the rest of us could avoid it.

The 15 or so exhibits demonstrated a wide range of levels, from what must have been pre-school to at least one clearly done by the parents (that one, present yesterday during an earlier trip to the mall, but missing today) compared the affective behavior of childcare-kids vs. home school kids.) Most of the exhibits had a quote from "the scriptures" related in some way to the exhibit. For instance, my favorite: a very young child's exhibit (I'm guessing) on bunnies. The Scripture: "God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be" (I Corinthians 2:19). Of course, I Corinthians 12 is about the unity of the spirit and the body, and that bit about the arrangements of the body parts is part of a sort of mini parable in which each part of the body stupidly asks "If I am not an eye, I am not part of the body?" and so on. So note, fellow rationalists. As annoying as it is when creationists "Quote Mine" from the scientific literature, take heart. They don't get in much trouble for doing that, but when the quote mine from The Bible, well, I assume they are going to Hell for that. What goes around comes around.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Note to John McCain - You Have to Win the General Election to be President

From the Associated Press

McCain: Roe V. Wade Should Be Overturned

Associated Press Writer

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party's conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned," the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench."

The landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade gave women the right to choose an abortion to terminate a pregnancy. The Supreme Court has narrowly upheld the decision, with the presence of an increasing number of more conservative justices on the court raising the possibility that abortion rights would be limited.

Social conservatives are a critical voting bloc in the GOP presidential primaries.

McCain's campaign also announced early Sunday that he had been endorsed by former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who had been considering his own bid for the White House, and former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, who failed in his bid for the Republican nomination in 1996.

Keating told the crowd that McCain is the "only candidate who is a true-blue, Ronald Reagan conservative."

McCain later attended an evening rally promoting an abstinence program. He told the crowd of more than 1,000 teens and parents that young people have pressures far different from the ones he faced while growing up. "Sometimes I've made the wrong choice," McCain said.

He also talked about his experience as a prisoner of war during Vietnam, and described some of the torture he suffered. His captors "wanted to make us do things that we otherwise wouldn't do," including confessing to war crimes, McCain said.

He and fellow prisoners were beat up for practicing their religion, but they continued to do it. "Sometimes it is very difficult to do the right thing," he said.

McCain has strong name recognition and the largest network of supporters in South Carolina. That backing comes in part from his staunch support for the Iraq war, something on which he focused a day earlier in Iowa. But it's the same state that dealt a crushing blow to his presidential aspirations in 2000.

McCain is trying to build support among conservatives after a recent rebuke from Christian leader James Dobson, who said he wouldn't back McCain's presidential bid. Conservatives question McCain's opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. He opposes same-sex marriage, but says it should be regulated by the states.

The hard right of the Republican Party will force candidates into positions that have no chance of winning a majority in the general election.

Knock yourself out, everybody.

Don Samuels Concerns About Homosexuality in the Fire Department

Minneapolis City Council, December 22, 2006

Stadium Boondoggle Update

Sid Hartman and Shane Nakeru are pouting. Hartman blames the Minneapolis politicians:

Minneapolis pols fiddle while their stadiums burn

By Sid Hartman, Star Tribune

It's amazing to me that, according to some of the Hennepin County commissioners, Mayor R.T. Rybak, the city council and nobody else of any authority in Minneapolis has stepped in to try to solve the problem of the price of the land for the site of the future Twins ballpark.

Why won't the Hennepin County Commissioners who are saying this go on the record?

And it appears the chances of this logjam being settled are shrinking day by day, with a possibility that the stadium won't be built. The 100 or so owners of the land behind Target Center are now riding the coattails of Hines Interests, the Texas company that manages the land.

This is the situation the county and Twins find themselves in, and the city isn't doing anything to help, even though Minneapolis would be one of the biggest beneficiaries, with its new entertainment tax potentially bringing in $3 million per year.

Yes, as usual, the city is doing nothing to help solve the problem.

The word we are hearing is that the sides in the land squabble are not talking, thus losing valuable time and risking the project's feasibility.

And yes, the Hennepin County commissioners who voted for the ballpark and their lawyers are not without guilt in this dilemma. It appears they entered into a deal that they can't deliver on.

As time marches on, the price of building this ballpark will increase to a point where it can't be built.

Target Center too

Then you have another situation in which the great leadership of Minneapolis is involved.

Owner Glen Taylor and the Timberwolves were losing $250,000 a month in trying to book shows at Target Center when Taylor decided to give the worry back to the city.

While both Target Center and Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul are struggling financially because of the competition for shows between the two arenas, the Minneapolis delegation in the Legislature is doing nothing to help the Target Center problem.

I wonder if those legislators are going to stand by and watch Sen. Dick Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, pass legislation that will bail out St. Paul's debt on Xcel Energy Center.

Cohen's claim is that this should be done because there was some forgiveness given for $87 million in debt on the Minneapolis Convention Center in 1998. But it's my understanding that the situations aren't at all equal.

Well, based on past performances, I look for the Minneapolis delegation in the Legislature to sit and watch as Cohen and the more aggressive St. Paul politicians solve Xcel's financial problems, while the nonaggressive Minneapolis group -- some of whom voted against passing the new Twins ballpark plan -- do nothing for the problems at Target Center.

Why should RT Rybak, who is thinking of running for US Senate get any more associated with this circus than he already is?

Sid's column reminded me to write my legislators asking them to vote no on the Excel Center bill.

Mike Kazuba gives an update on the Keystone Kops manipulations.

"It would be highly unlikely that the 2010 opening date could be met," said Ed Hunter, the authority's ballpark project manager. "Just from a practical, technical aspect, you're starting over ... new [environmental impact statement], new site development surveys, soil borings. The list goes on and on."

Hunter and Daniel Mehls, an executive with M.A. Mortenson Co., the construction manager the Twins hired, told the authority's five members that costs will likely rise because of the land sale dispute. Mehls said a set of bids related to site preparation and utility relocation, which were to be advertised on Feb. 21 to begin work in March, will cost more.

February 21 is a few days off.

From Shane Nakeru's comments:

No coincidence. HC maybe could've had it for around 20M had "Oputz" been smart enough to address that issue first. He wasn't. That alone should be worth another 20M. Of course, watching him twist in the wind and subsequently get flushed down the drain is just a bonus that you can't put a price on.

Posted by: Stadiumshill at February 16, 2007 03:31 PM

And here's the best comment:

It is not about LPII's unwillingness to counteroffer the county's proposal. It is about these issues:

1] Both the county and the landowners land values will come out in court. This will be public knowledge.
2] If the county is so sure that their offer is fair, then why are they not proceeding with the condemnation process and start building the stadium? I think the county's worst nightmare is that the condemnation process proceeds and the court awards the landowners the fair market value of the land which will be more than they have offered and have budgeted. You have to wonder why the county is not moving forward if they think they are in the right. Nothing is stopping them. Could it be they are not confident with their number and are trying to deflect the attention.

Contact your county officials and ask them why they have gotten this far along including spending our money without an agreement in place for the land. Let the double-talk begin.

Photos from the Republican Leadership Summit

Heidi Frederickson, Michele Bachmann's Press Secretary

Heidi Frederickson, Press Secretary for Michele Bachmann. Former Press Secretary, Mark Kennedy.

Conference Participant

Conference Participant

Conference Participant.

Former Minnesota Congressman Mark Kennedy

Former Congressman, and Senate Candidate Mark Kennedy (R)

Michele Bachmann at the Republican Leadership Conference

Congressgroupie Michele Bachmann

Michele Bachmann with Supporter

Congressgroupie Michele Bachmann

Norm Coleman to Hugh Hewitt: As for What You Think, It's Been Noted and Logged

Remember this? Norm Coleman was trying to tell Hugh Hewitt's audience what they wanted to hear. Now he voted with the Democrats for closure on the Warner resolution.

HH: Joined now from Washington, D.C. by an old friend and a great American, Norm Coleman, Senator from Minnesota, a man I hope to have on often and early throughout the election cycle. But Senator Coleman, you’ve got to update me. What’s going on with these resolutions?

NC: Well, we had a resolution today, the Hagel-Biden resolution. It was before the Foreign Relations Committee. It passed with the vote of all the Democrats on the committee and only one Republican, Chuck Hagel. The rest of us voted against Hagel-Biden. I tried to amend it, I tried to add an amendment. And by the way, Hugh, you know that I have expressed concern about the part of the President’s plan, just a part of the President’s plan that talks about a surge in Baghdad. I think the Iraqis, they've got to produce, they've got to put up, they've got to show a resolve to take on al-Sadr, just as much as they take on the insurgents. I've had a concern about that. On the other hand, I've also talked to the Marines in Anbar who are doing what Marines do very well. They're killing the enemy. They’re killing the foreign fighters. They're seizing ground. But to hold it, they need Iraqis, and they need Sunnis in the army there, and Sunnis in the police force. But the commanders in Anbar say that we need more forces and we need more troops. And so I had a resolution that said the Iraqis need to deal with the sectarian violence, but the bottom line of it was that the commanders on the ground in places like Anbar, that are fighting the war against insurgents and foreign fighters, if they need increases, if they need more troops, then we should support them. That was substantially voted down. Bottom line is I voted against the resolution that I think is…I'm going to be very blunt…is a pull-out resolution. This isn't an abandon Iraq resolution. The words don't exactly say that, but I listened to John Murtha testify, and I listened to the reaction of my colleagues across the aisle, that's their position. They talk about redeployment, and redeployment really means get out, regardless of the consequences. I have concerns about a portion of the President's plan, I have articulated those concerns, but I'm not ready to give up on victory or success in Iraq, Hugh.

When Michele Bachmann spoke at the Republican Leadership Conference outside of her district, she stated: "When Republicans stop acting like Republicans, Democrats win." Was this a shot at Senator Norm Coleman?

She got received like a Rock Star. Conspictuous by his absence? Senator Norm Coleman.

Court Stripping Q and A

In response to my interview with Congressman John Kline about his selective support for court stripping, commenters asked for more information about Court Stripping. I've bumped an earlier (7/24/04) post on Lloydletta to explain. This is from email correspondance I had with Dale Carpenter, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Minnesota Law School.

What is court stripping and why is it being proposed?

Jurisdiction-stripping has been proposed just about every time the Court has done something controversial.  It came closest, perhaps, in the 1950s in the aftermath of Brown v. Board when Southern congressmen proposed stripping the courts of power to hear school desegregation cases (isn't it funny that the civil rights era seems to come up so often in these discussions?).  It failed then, when the country was much more riled up than it is now.

The need for judicial review to keep Congress within its constitutional bounds, and the dangerous precedent that would be set by passing a jurisdiction-stripping measure, will probably cause Congress to exercise self-restraint, as it has in the past.  Even if it passed the House, it would not make it through the Senate.

As for the constitutionality of jurisdiction-stripping, there's no good precedent either way.  The one case where Congress stripped the federal courts of some habeas power is a case called Ex Parte McCardle.  It is not exactly on point because the courts were left with some reviewing power over criminal detentions and the Court's opinion upholding the measure is vague as to the extent of congressional power.  On the constitutional text, Congress has a solid argument. There are, however, good structural (e.g., separation of powers) reasons to doubt Congress should be understood to have plenary power in this area.  These structural arguments have been made by law professors like Michael Gerhardt (who, I'm happy to say, will be visiting at Minnesota in the fall), who testified against this jurisdiction-stripping proposal on June 24.  You can find his testimony online through a Google search.

Regarding "the need for judicial review to keep Congress within its constitutional
bounds..." This IS a legitimate concern.  The natural follow-up question, however, is how to keep the federal judiciary within ITS constitutional bounds?  THAT'S the question no one seems to be willing or able to answer...and THAT'S part of what is really driving this debate over gay marriage.

Courts sometimes go overboard.  The checks are these: (1) judicial appointments (2) multiple layers of review, including appellate and Supreme Court review of wild decisions (3) the limited power of judges, who can only decide cases and controversies before them, not simply any issue they want to address, and (4) constitutional amendment.  For all the talk of activist courts, the federal judiciary has rarely resisted a dominant national political alliance on any issue.  I can only think of 3 such instances in the Court's history, such as when the Court was striking down minimum wage and maximum hours laws in the early part of the 20th century.  For the most part, the court is not far off the national consensus for very long, even if some of those with strong but minority political viewpoints don't like the results.

Since there are several court stripping proposals before congress, I will continue to follow this issue in this blog.

Thanks to Dale Carpenter, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Minnesota for the answers.