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National Center for Lesbian Right: www.nclrights.org
Lambda Legal: www.lambdalegal.org
Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Lambda Legal filed a reply
brief in the California Supreme Court, the next step in the lawsuit
seeking to overturn Proposition 8, which passed by a mere 52 percent on
The brief argues that Proposition 8 is
invalid because it seeks to eliminate a fundamental right only for a
targeted minority, which cannot be done through the initiative process.
The brief also agrees with California Attorney General Jerry Brown that
certain fundamental rights, including the right to marry, are
inalienable and can not be put up for a popular vote. The brief also
argues --again in agreement with the Attorney General -- that Proposition
8 cannot be applied to invalidate existing marriages because new laws
and amendments are presumed to apply only on a prospective basis.
"If Prop 8 is permitted to stand, it would be the first time an
initiative has successfully been used to change the California
Constitution to take away an existing right only from a historically
targeted minority group," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter.
"Such a change would defeat the very purpose of a constitution and
fundamentally alter the role of the courts in protecting minority
On November 19, 2008, the California Supreme Court granted review in
the legal challenges to Proposition 8, and established an expedited
briefing schedule, under which briefing will be completed in January
2009, with amicus curiae or "friend-of-the-court" briefs due on January
15. Oral argument potentially could be held as early as March 2009.
Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU, added "Prop 8 is a
radical and unprecedented change to the California Constitution that
puts all Californians at risk. It actually mandates government
discrimination against a minority."
In May of 2008, the California Supreme Court held that laws that treat
people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal
protection clause of the California Constitution and that same-sex
couples have the same fundamental right to marry as other Californians.
Proposition 8 would completely eliminate this fundamental right only
for same-sex couples. No other initiative has ever successfully changed
the California Constitution to take away a right only from a targeted
"Prop 8 is not valid and never has been," said Jennifer Pizer, Lambda
Legal National Marriage Project Director. "California's Equal
Protection clause was not written in sand, to be erased by shifting
political tides. It's a solid guarantee that we all have the same
rights and it's the foundation of our government. Exceptions can't be
carved by simple majority vote or the equality guarantee becomes a
discrimination guarantee. No initiative can cause such a profound
change in our legal system."
NCLR, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU filed this challenge on November 5,
representing Equality California, whose members include many same-sex
couples who married between June 16 and November 4, 2008, and six
same-sex couples who want to marry in California. The California
Supreme Court has also agreed to hear two other challenges filed on the
same day: one filed by the City and County of San Francisco (joined by
Santa Clara County and the City of Los Angeles, and subsequently by Los
Angeles County and other local governments); and another filed by a
private attorney. These three cases are jointly under review by the
California Supreme Court.
Serving as co-counsel on the case with NCLR, Lambda Legal, and the ACLU
are the Law Office of David C. Codell, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP,
and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
For more information on this case, go to: https://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/courts/supreme/highprofile/prop8.htm
National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization
committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation,
public policy advocacy, and public education. www.nclrights.org
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full
recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals,
transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation,
education and public policy work. www.lambdalegal.org
The American Civil Liberties Union is America's foremost advocate of
individual rights. It fights discrimination and moves public opinion on
LGBT rights through the courts, legislatures and public education. www.aclu.org
works to achieve equality and secure legal protections for LGBT people.
To improve the lives of LGBT Californians, EQCA sponsors legislation
and coordinates efforts to ensure its passage, lobbies legislators and
other policy makers, builds coalitions, develops community strength and
empowers individuals and other organizations to engage in the political
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior."
U.S. Sen. John Fetterman on Thursday demanded accountability for Norfolk Southern and other railroad companies following Wednesday night's freight train derailment in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania.
Local media report nine out of more than 200 cars on a Norfolk Southern train went off the track just before midnight in the town of New Castle, 50 miles north of Pittsburgh and about 10 miles east of the Ohio border.
"This has got to end."
Fire officials said that salt, soybeans, and paraffin wax—used to make candles—spilled from the derailed cars, none of which were carrying hazardous materials. A statement from Norfolk Southern said no one was injured in the accident.
New Castle is also located about 20 miles from East Palestine, Ohio, the site of the fiery Norfolk Southern derailment and chemical burn disaster that spilled cancer-causing dioxin and vinyl chloride into the air, soil, and waterways in the vicinity of the accident.
"It's the same shit, different day from Norfolk Southern," Fetterman (D-Pa.) said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
\u201chttps://t.co/lliFDm9xzI\nAnother Norfolk Southern train has derailed, this one in New Castle Pennsylvania. This derailment is 30 minutes away from East Palestine. When is Norfolk Southern going to be held accountable for endangering public safety? #publicownership #norfolksouthern\u201d— Northeast PA DSA (@Northeast PA DSA) 1683826695
"It's time to finally hold Norfolk Southern and the big rail companies accountable for the harm they have caused in East Palestine and Darlington Township, and the harm they continue to cause with this dangerous, reckless, and selfish behavior," the freshman senator continued. Darlington Township, Pennsylvania is located about nine miles east of East Palestine.
"I'm thankful that no one was hurt and no toxic material was spilled in New Castle, but this derailment looks way too similar to the ones we've said can't happen again," Fetterman said. "This has got to end."
"I'm proud that my bipartisan bill, the Railway Safety Act, advanced out of committee yesterday," added Fetterman, who has also introduced the Railroad Accountability Act.
"This bill will finally enact commonsense rail safety procedures that would have prevented last night's derailment," the lawmaker asserted of the measure advanced Wednesday. "It's time to pass this bill on the floor and finally hold Norfolk Southern accountable."
"It's 10 days too late," said one protester in New York City. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
The office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg confirmed Thursday that Daniel Penny, who last week fatally choked Jordan Neely on the subway in New York City, is set to be charged Friday and could face up to 15 years behind bars.
"Daniel Penny will be arrested on a charge of manslaughter in the second degree," Bragg's office said in a statement. "We cannot provide any additional information until he has been arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, which we expect to take place tomorrow."
While riding the F train on May 1, Neely—a 30-year-old Black subway performer known for impersonating Michael Jackson—was "acting erratically," but he did not attack anyone on the train, according to witness and freelance journalist Juan Alberto Vazquez.
Neely, who was unhoused, shouted about being "fed up and hungry" and "tired of having nothing," said Vazquez—who posted on Facebook footage of Penny putting Neely in a chokehold that the medical examiner concluded killed him.
Penny, a white 24-year-old Marine veteran, was initially questioned and then released by police; his attorneys claim he acted in self-defense.
Meanwhile, the video has spread online and sparked not only demands for justice but also national conversations about homelessness, mental illness, and racism in the United States.
According toNBC New York:
Multiple protests have taken place in Manhattan since Neely's death, with dozens arrested. Protesters again ratcheted up the volume Thursday, even after learning of the charges said to be coming.
"We need people to be held accountable for their actions, however, we don't want this just to be about the need to incarcerate this man," said Jawanza James Williams, the organizing director for Vocal NY.
Still, some said it has taken too long for the charges to come.
"It's 10 days too late," said protester Tanesha Grant. "Yes it's some step towards progress, but we've been waiting too long."
In a Wednesday speech, Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams used Neely's death to promote his unpopular policy of addressing NYC's intertwined mental health and homelessness crises with forced hospitalizations.
"There is no evidence supporting Adams' harmful and dangerous rhetoric," responded New York Civil Liberties Union executive director Donna Lieberman. "This kind of stigmatization and fearmongering contributes to the victimization of people with perceived mental illness—the same that led to the killing of Jordan Neely."
"The mayor is right that there are more Jordan Neelys in our city," Lieberman added. "They deserve housing, healthcare, and supportive services to get back on their feet, not to be controlled, criminalized, or killed."
"The court's ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk," said one policy expert. "It must be reversed."
A federal judge's ruling in Virginia on Thursday once again made clear the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, in which the right-wing majority ruled that laws and regulations pertaining to firearms must fall within the United States' so-called "historical tradition."
The ruling on Thursday was handed down by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne, a George H.W. Bush appointee, in the case of a 20-year-old who was turned away when he attempted to buy a Glock 19x handgun from a federally licensed dealer.
Under regulations put in place by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and Explosives (ATF) and the Gun Control Act of 1968, federally licensed sellers have been prohibited from selling guns to 18-to-20-year-olds, who have had to make such purchases in private sales.
Payne ruled that "the statutes and regulations in question are not consistent with our nation's history and tradition," and that "therefore, they cannot stand."
The judge made clear in his decision that the ruling was underpinned by Bruen, in which Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion that "constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them."
According to Payne, the fact that 18-year-olds were permitted to join militias at the time of the nation's founding suggests that buyers should not have to reach age 21 before purchasing handguns from licensed sellers.
"The Second Amendment's protections apply to 18-to-20-year-olds. By adopting the Second Amendment, the people constrained both the hands of Congress and the courts to infringe upon this right by denying ordinary law-abiding citizens of this age the full enjoyment of the right to keep and bear arms unless the restriction is supported by the nation's history," said Payne. "That is what Bruen tells us."
Princeton University professor Eddie S. Glaude Jr. denounced the ruling as "madness," while New York University law professor Chris Sprigman said the decision is the latest result of "America's extremist form of constitutionalism."
\u201cAmerica\u2019s extremist form of constitutionalism strikes again. https://t.co/wlsYXBI4BK\u201d— Chris Sprigman (@Chris Sprigman) 1683835308
Janet Carter, senior director of issues and appeals at gun control advocacy group Everytown Law, pointed to research that shows that "18- to 20-year-olds commit gun homicides at triple the rate of adults 21 years and older."
"The federal law prohibiting federally licensed firearms dealers from selling handguns to individuals under the age of 21 is not just an essential tool for preventing gun violence, it is also entirely constitutional," Carter told The Washington Post. "The court's ruling will undoubtedly put lives at risk. It must be reversed."
Attorneys on both sides of the case said they expected the Biden administration to appeal the ruling.
Numerous polls have shown that the majority of Americans favor stricter gun control measures, and a survey of gun owners taken last year by NPR/Ipsos found that 67% of respondents favored raising the age for any gun purchase from 18 to 21.
"At a moment when Americans are growing more unified and in favor of gun control," said historian Brian Rosenwald, "Clarence Thomas' grotesque, inane opinion in Bruen is going to make all of them illegal."