Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jardeleza likens Sereno, Carpio to ‘sharks, bullies’ in speech before UP law grads | News | GMA News Online

See - Jardeleza likens Sereno, Carpio to ‘sharks, bullies’ in speech before UP law grads | News | GMA News Online

"x x x.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza took an apparent swipe against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Caprio during a recent speech, likening them to “sharks and bullies” for trying to prevent his appointment to the high court.

In a speech during the commencement exercises for UP law graduates, Jardeleza recounted a story about hitting a “major road block” that resulted in his supposed “near death experience” at the time he was trying to secure an SC post.

“The Chief Justice and the senior associate Justice of the Supreme Court objected to my nomination, on grounds that I lacked integrity in my handling of the West Philippine Sea arbitration,” Jardeleza said. “It came as a complete surprise; I didn’t know what hit me.”

Jardeleza ended up still challenging his oppositors and took up the case before the SC, which, through a vote of 7-4 in August 2014, ordered the Judicial and Bar Council to include him in the shortlist despite the objections of Sereno and Carpio.

Jardeleza eventually clinched the SC post later that month. Sereno and Carpio did not take part in the SC voting.

“What the case will not tell you, though, is how much pain the vicious untruths hurled my direction caused me and my family,” said Jardeleza. “I was so close to professional death, an inglorious end to a career I had worked so hard to nurture. It is an experience I would not wish on anybody.”

Saying “unkind persons roam this world,” Jardeleza advised the graduates to “face down the bullies” and never to “back down from the sharks.”

GMA News Online tried getting Sereno's side, but the chief justice declined to comment. SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Thedoore Te said in a briefing that “as of 2:03 p.m., [there’s] no indication of any comment.”

Sereno and Carpio both opposed Jardeleza’s nomination to the SC for his alleged unfavorable position on the Philippine claim over the West Philippine Sea. Jardeleza was solicitor general at the time, representing the Philippines in its territorial claim over parts of the South Chiina Sea.

Sereno's objection concerned Jardeleza—as chief government lawyer—ordering the deletion of key parts of the Philippine memorandum or memorial that was to be submitted to a United Nations-backed arbitral tribunal in the Hague, particularly the portion on the Itu Aba.

Taiwan-controlled Itu Aba is the largest island in the contested Spratly Islands.

In his speech, Jardeleza said even if he wanted to, he could not defend himself over Sereno and Carpio’s accusations as he was bound by the lawyer-client secrecy, and could not discuss in public aspects of the territorial dispute case.

“Under our code of ethics, we carry the secrets of the client to the grave. These secrets include case litigation strategy and tactics. You do not telegraph these to the adversary. That would be treason,” he said.

Jardeleza accused Sereno and Carpio of violating “with impunity” laws and administrative orders prohibiting public officers charged with the custody of or confidential and secret documents containing state secrets from revealing their contents.

Jardeleza likened his journey to a basic NAVY seal training of swimming in shark-infested areas. He said when a shark circles your position, stand your ground and don’t swim away.

“If it moves in to attack, you must summon all your strength and courage and punch that shark in the snout,” he said.

“Sharks and bullies can be brutal. I cannot guarantee that you will triumph over the bullies and the sharks. In my case, I almost perished. I was bloodied. But I stood my ground. I pushed back. So that’s my advice to you: when faced with a bully, push back,” said Jardeleza.

While he respected those who measure success by their money in the bank, job titles, press coverage, or even Twitter followers, Jardeleza advised the graduates to live lives of integrity, principle, steadfastness, and ethical inspiration. —KBK, GMA News

More from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/513194/news/nation/jardeleza-likens-sereno-carpio-to-sharks-bullies-in-speech-before-up-law-grads

SC stops PNoy EOs on coco levy fund | Economy | GMA News Online

See - SC stops PNoy EOs on coco levy fund | Economy | GMA News Online

"x x x.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stopped the implementation of two executive orders issued by President Benigno Aquino III covering the P93-billion coconut levy fund.

The high tribunal, sitting en banc, issued a temporary restraining order against EOs 179 and 180, SC Public Information Office chief and spokesman Theodore Te told reporters in a briefing.

MalacaƱang was also ordered to comment on the petition filed by the Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organization.

In EO 180, Aquino directed the concerned agencies to secure the government’s rights and interests when it comes to the coco levy assets.

In particular, the Office of the Solicitor General, the Presidential Commission on Good Government, and the agencies under the Department of Justice (DOJ) must file the proper pleadings to safeguard the government’s interests and rights to the coco levy fund.

The government agencies were also directed to deposit the coco levy assets with the Bureau of the Treasury.

EO 180 was issued in March 2015, three months after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a final judgment which allowed the government to use the coco levy fund.

In EO 179, the PCGG was tasked to coordinate with other government agencies to identify all known coco levy assets lo later than 60 days when the order takes effect.

The PCGG, with the Office of the Solicitor General, was also asked to submit a certified report to the Treasury Bureau, the Commission on Audit, and the Office of the President identifying and accounting for all the coco levy assets.

In 2013, the SC awarded the national government a block of the shares of stock in conglomerate San Miguel Corp., with a caveat that proceeds from the shares should be used only for the benefit of coconut farmers and the industry. The money used to buy San Miguel shares was established to have came from the coconut levy funds.

The controversial fund came from taxes imposed on coconut farmers during the Martial Law years by alleged cronies of then President Ferdinand Marcos – including Aquino's uncle, Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco.

From an initial estimate of P9.695 billion in 1986, the PCGG noted in its latest report that the coco levy funds have since ballooned to P93 billion. – VS, GMA News

x x x."

More from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/513266/economy/agricultureandmining/sc-stops-pnoy-eos-on-coco-levy-fund



The Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, upon the recommendation of the Regulatory Office, approved the adoption of the following new set of Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRRs):
  1. 2013 Revised IRR on the Disconnection and Reconnection of Water Service Connections (Annex “1”);
  2. IRR on Rate Classification and Billing Scheme of Small-Scale (Home-Based) Businesses (Annex “2”);
  3. IRR on Rate Reclassification of Places of Worship (Annex “3”); 
  4. 2013 Revised IRR on the Billing Scheme and Rate Classification for High-Rise and and Other Multiple Dwellings (Annex “4”);
  5. IRR on the Treatment and Rate Reclassification of Domestic Customers Inside Military and Police Installations (Annex “5”);
  6. IRR on Additional Meter and Transfer of Connection Tapping Point (Annex “6”); and
  7. IRR on the Rate Reclassification of Certain Government Institutions (Annex “7”).
These IRRs reflect the consensus reached by the Regulatory Office, Corporate Office, Manila Water Company, Inc. and Maynilad Water Services, Inc.

The 2000 BAIL BOND GUIDE - https://legalhawk.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/bailbond-guide.pdf

See - https://legalhawk.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/bailbond-guide.pdf

Department of Justice




Monday, June 29, 2015

MEL STA. MARIA | Will the Philippines follow the US in recognizing same-sex marriage?

See - MEL STA. MARIA | Will the Philippines follow the US in recognizing same-sex marriage?

"x x x.
Our Family Code, which took effect in 1988, provides that "marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life."

While the Family Code was passed because "experience under the (old Civil) Code as well as pervasive changes and developments have necessitated revision of its provisions on marriage and family relations to bring them closer to Filipino customs, values and ideals and reflect contemporary trends and conditions," the Code not only failed to address same-sex marriage, but in fact prohibited it by allowing only heterosexual marriage.

At this time and age, is this statutory limitation on marriage unconstitutional?

In the hierarchy of our laws, the Constitution is supreme. Any inferior law or provision thereof, such as the Family Code, must not violate or go beyond its mandate. Neither is the Constitution a dead-letter document. One of my favorite jurists, former United States Associate Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. said: "The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs."
On issues relating to marriage, one of the "current problems" and the "current needs" testing the limits of the Constitution is the desire of a minority group, the LGBT community, to be given the same treatment in their relationship as those accorded to heterosexual unions.

Two of the great principles in our Constitution affected by this concern are enshrined in Section 2 Article 14 - which states that "marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the State" - and in Section 1 of Article 3, which is known as the Bill of Right's "due process and equal protection clause." It provides that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws."

Textually, the constitutional provision on marriage is neutral. It does not say that only heterosexuals can get married. It was only the Family Code's codifiers, following the conventional concept in marriage, who limited it to heterosexual marriage. This is not necessarily bad as it reflected the traditional union that has benefited and still benefits the society.

But our Congress, with its plenary legislative powers, can always change the law by adding same-sex marriage as another acceptable legal union. Since the Constitution is neutral and does not make any limitation as to sex, making such an amendment will textually be within its ambit. It is a principle that when the Constitution does not distinguish, we should not distinguish. The question now is: are our legislators broad-minded enough to amend the law? Or should the matter be finally decided by the Supreme Court?

This brings us to the other "great principle" of our Constitution: the "due process and equal protection clause." Our Supreme Court can always take cognizance of issues involving this great principle. This is exactly the same principle partly provided in the US Constitution's 14th amendment forming the basis of the US Supreme Court's decision in allowing same sex marriage.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court said that, "in recognizing the equal protection clause, the Court has recognized that new insights and societal understandings can reveal unjustified inequality within our most fundamental institutions that once passed unchallenged and unnoticed." The Supreme Court added that, through the years, laws involving, directly or indirectly, the rights of gays and lesbians, have proven to provide a dynamic of "demeaning their existence and control of their destiny" and unwarrantedly deprive them of benefits given to heterosexual relationship, which is a fundamental inequality that is unacceptable.
The point of the LGBT community, according to the landmark-decision of the US Supreme Court, is to be understood that they also respect the institution of marriage. They "respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

The Philippines must take a serious look again at our 27 year-old Family Code excluding same-sex marriage. Is there already a consciousness among Filipinos or at least certain sectors that there can be a union acceptable other than that of man and woman? Is there a need also to protect the values and ideals of gays and lesbians who constitute a minority in our society? Is it not that the purpose of any law is to protect minorities who may be exploited or abused by the majority? Considering that there seems to be an unstoppable trend around the world to recognize same-sex-marriage, is it time for its recognition to bring family relations "to reflect contemporary trends and conditions" which, anyway, is one of the moving-inspiration of the Family Code?

If the answers to all these queries sway you towards a positive reply, then that is the start. Change may be truly inevitable and it is just a matter of time.

It could be that changing the usual marital paradigm may not in fact be destroying tradition, but profoundly improving it, rooted as it is in the basic truth that gays and lesbians are as much rights-holders as any heterosexual or "straight" person and that they have the right to lay claim on marriage. Making the institution of marriage more inclusive could strengthen it while it becomes more accessible to people who decide to commit themselves to love one another.

x x x."

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 2 - 10 Ways to Spot the Reptile in Action Posted by Ken Lopez on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 @ 01:24 PM

See - http://www.a2lc.com/blog/repelling-the-reptile-trial-strategy-as-defense-counsel-part-2-10-ways-to-spot-the-reptile-in-action?utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=19650338&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9E4xc6bTqLaTydpt_4pOg9-9VwrQyjGPrd93kEk0EwVpz8n3Q7e2XvYKAfQ4jfmuitLCsUKHTmYj0tEvPwUy9tb9E6mg&_hsmi=19650338

"x x x.

In light of this fact, below are 10 ways to spot the strategy. In subsequent articles, we will discuss what to do to counter it. From the very start of your case, look for any of the following 10 phenomena:
  1. You encounter themes suggesting that the community needs to be protected from the defendant; e.g. “Walking past stores on Main Street is part of what it means to be American.”
  2. The behavior of the plaintiff or other contributing or mitigating traits of the plaintiff are ignored, and instead the plaintiff works hard to keep the focus on the defendant or even an idealized defendant.
  3. Plaintiffs introduce a discussion of “safety rules” throughout all pre-trial phases of the case; e.g. “Do you agree that keeping the public safe is a key role of your train operators?”
  4. Plaintiffs use phrases during discovery like “No person has a right to needlessly endanger another person.”
  5. Plaintiffs make an effort to imagine what the defendants’ conduct could have been in a worst-case scenario. e.g. “What if your plane hit a school instead of a forest?”
  6. There is an almost bizarre avoidance of discussing the standard of liability.
  7. Plaintiffs emphasize the word “must” during depositions like, “You would agree that management must remove needless workplace dangers?”
  8. There is considerable emphasis on "responsibilities" and little emphasis on the actual standard of liability.
  9. Plaintiffs counsel try to ask your client to articulate worst case scenarios if safety rules are violated, as in, “How much harm could a chemical spill from your plant cause?”
  10. Plaintiffs try to substitute job duties for a standard of liability. e.g. “A pilot's job is to make sure the plane is flightworthy, right?”
Spotting any one of these indicators means there is a good chance that the reptile trial strategy is in play. Failing to pay close attention to the use of the strategy may very well create a strong advantage for the plaintiff at trial. It is now critical that every defense attorney know how to respond to this strategy. We will cover this and other topics in subsequent posts (click here to be notified of subsequent posts) in this Reptile trial strategy series.

x x x."

Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 1

See - Repelling the Reptile Trial Strategy as Defense Counsel - Part 1

"x x x.

According to Ball and Keenan’s publicity materials, the “reptile” concept is “the most powerful tool in the fight against tort reform.” Ball and Keenan say that through their books, DVDs, seminars and workshops, “the Reptile is revolutionizing the way that trial attorneys approach and win their cases.” The proof, they say, is in the numbers, as more than $6 billion in verdicts and settlements have resulted from these tactics since they launched them in 2009.
William A. Ruskin of Epstein Becker & Green has summarized the concept well in a 2013 Lexis-Nexis article:
The Reptile theory asserts that you can prevail at trial by speaking to, and scaring, the primitive part of jurors' brains, the part of the brain they share with reptiles. The Reptile strategy purports to provide a blueprint to succeeding at trial by applying advanced neuroscientific techniques to pretrial discovery and trial. The fundamental concept is that the reptile brain is conditioned to favor safety and survival. Therefore, if plaintiff's' counsel can reach the reptilian portion of the jurors' brains, they can influence their decisions; the jurors will instinctively choose to protect their families and community from danger through their verdict.
While the “science” described by the authors is laughable and amateurish, the strategies they recommend are effective. As a result, defense attorneys nationwide are taking notice and developing strategies to combat these tactics.

The Reptile strategy is showing up mostly in single-plaintiff cases on the coastal areas, but it is spreading geographically and is now being used in larger cases. Looking at the Reptile trial strategy more as a comprehensive litigation tactic, I'd summarize the approach this way:
  • Beginning as soon as the complaint, articulate a set of common sense safety rules that people as good members of a community should follow.
  • Get experts and fact witnesses, in discovery, to agree that these common sense safety rules are reasonable for society. For example people shouldn't drive fast, pouring chemicals into rivers and streams is not ideal, a single company should not own too much of the market, doctors shouldn't hurt people.
  • Use fear as a persuasion device to frighten jurors into defending their communities by adopting what is effectively a new standard of liability.
When fully implemented, the strategy sees the defendant’s conduct as a secondary consideration to what might have occurred. For example, what if it had been a school bus in the accident? What if the contamination would have been of drinking water for a pregnant mom? These arguments substitute for the actual standard of liability and the actual conduct of the defendant.

The rationale for this approach is that fear will cause jurors to abandon rational thought and penalize the defendants. That's not how people think, that's not how juries reach decisions, and that’s not actual science. But just because the authors flub the science it doesn't mean their recommended trial strategies are bad. Ball and Keenan make some suggestions that defense lawyers must be aware of.
x x x."

Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling | Environment | The Guardian

See - Dutch government ordered to cut carbon emissions in landmark ruling | Environment | The Guardian

"x x x.

A court in The Hague has ordered the Dutch government to cut its emissions by at least 25% within five years, in a landmark ruling expected to cause ripples around the world.
To cheers and hoots from climate campaigners in court, three judges ruled that government plans to cut emissions by just 14-17% compared to 1990 levels by 2020 were unlawful, given the scale of the threat posed by climate change.
Jubilant campaigners said that governments preparing for the Paris climate summit later this year would now need to look over their shoulders for civil rights era-style legal challenges where emissions-cutting pledges are inadequate.
“Before this judgement, the only legal obligations on states were those they agreed among themselves in international treaties,” said Dennis van Berkel, legal counsel for Urgenda, the group that brought the suit.
“This is the first a time a court has determined that states have an independent legal obligation towards their citizens. That must inform the reduction commitments in Paris because if it doesn’t, they can expect pressure from courts in their own jurisdictions.”
In what was the first climate liability suit brought under human rights and tort law, Judge Hans Hofhuis told the court that the threat posed by global warming was severe and acknowledged by the Dutch government in international pacts.
“The state should not hide behind the argument that the solution to the global climate problem does not depend solely on Dutch efforts,” the judges’ ruling said. “Any reduction of emissions contributes to the prevention of dangerous climate change and as a developed country the Netherlands should take the lead in this.”
x x x."

What’s in the same-sex marriage ruling - The Washington Post

See - What’s in the same-sex marriage ruling - The Washington Post

"x x x.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution recognizes a right to same-sex marriage. Here’s a quick summary of the key parts of the opinion, which I’m posting as soon as I can after the opinion was handed down. I’ll add time-stamps at the beginning of each comment so you know when I added it.
10:02: In a 5-4 ruling by Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution requires states to provide for same-sex marriage.
10:09: The opinion is here. The opening is classic Justice Kennedy:
The Constitution promises liberty to all within its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity. The petitioners in these cases seek to find that liberty by marrying someone of the same sex and having their marriages deemed lawful on the same terms and conditions as marriages between persons of the opposite sex.
From the analysis section, on the evolving understanding of the Constitution:
The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.
10:11: The key step seems to be this:
In defining the right to marry [the Court”s cases have identified essential attributes of that right based in history, tradition, and other constitutional liberties inherent in this intimate bond. See, e.g., Lawrence, 539 U. S., at 574; Turner, supra, at 95; Zablocki, supra, at 384; Loving, supra, at 12; Griswold, supra, at 486. And in assessing whether the force and rationale of its cases apply to same-sex couples, the Court must respect the basic reasons why the right to marry has been long protected. See, e.g., Eisenstadt, supra, at 453–454; Poe, supra, at 542–553 (Harlan, J., dissenting).
This analysis compels the conclusion that same-sex couples may exercise the right to marry. The four principles and traditions to be discussed demonstrate that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples.
10:15: Kennedy then goes through the “four principles and traditions.” First:
A first premise of the Court’s relevant precedents is that the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy. . . . Like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make.
A second principle in this Court’s jurisprudence is that the right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals.
A third basis for protecting the right to marry is that it safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childrearing, procreation, and education. . . .
Under the laws of the several States, some of marriage’s protections for children and families are material. But marriage also confers more profound benefits. By giving recognition and legal structure to their parents’ relationship, marriage allows children “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 23). Marriage also affords the permanency
and stability important to children’s best interests. See Brief for Scholars of the Constitutional Rights of Children
as Amici Curiae 22–27.
As all parties agree, many same-sex couples provide loving and nurturing homes to their children, whether biological or adopted. And hundreds of thousands of children are presently being raised by such couples.
Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.
And concluding with the fourth factor:
Fourth and finally, this Court’s cases and the Nation’s traditions make clear that marriage is a keystone of our social order. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this truth on his travels through the United States almost two centuries ago:
“There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is so much respected as in America . . . [W]hen the American retires from the turmoil of public life to the bosom of his family, he finds in it the image of order and of peace . . . . [H]e afterwards carries [that image] with him into public affairs.” 1 Democracy in America 309 (H. Reeve transl., rev. ed. 1990).
10:22: This seems to be the heart of the opinion:
Same-sex couples are consigned to an instability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriage all the more precious by the significance it attaches to it, exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching that gays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them out of a central institution of the Nation’s society. Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.
The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest. With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.
10:28: Here’s the statement of the holding:
These considerations lead to the conclusion that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled, and the State laws challenged by Petitioners in these cases are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.
And here’s the conclusion:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s
oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right
Note no discussion of degrees of scrutiny, consistent with Kennedy’s opinions in Lawrence and Windsor — also handed down on June 26th in prior years. Kennedy then attaches a list of lower court rulings, state court rulings, and legislation recognizing a right to same-sex marriage.
10:35: Roberts has the primary dissent, although Alito, Scalia, and Thomas have also dissented. Roberts argues that the Court’s opinion is legislating from the bench: The challengers have strong policy arguments but weak legal arguments. From the opening:
Petitioners make strong arguments rooted in social policy and considerations of fairness. They contend that same-sex couples should be allowed to affirm their love and commitment through marriage, just like opposite-sex couples. That position has undeniable appeal; over the past six years, voters and legislators in eleven States and the District of Columbia have revised their laws to allow marriage between two people of the same sex.
But this Court is not a legislature. Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us.
Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be. The people who ratified the Constitution authorized courts to exercise “neither force nor will but merely judgment.” The Federalist No. 78, p. 465 (C. Rossiter ed. 1961) (A. Hamilton) (capitalization altered).
Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not. The fundamental right to marry does not include a right to make a State change its definition of marriage. And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational. In short, our Constitution does not enact any one theory of marriage. The people of a
State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.
Today, however, the Court takes the extraordinary step of ordering every State to license and recognize same-sex marriage. Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening. Supporters of same-sex marriage have achieved considerable success persuading their fellow citizens—through the democratic process—to adopt their view. That ends today. Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law. Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.
The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution
or this Court’s precedent. The majority expressly disclaims judicial “caution” and omits even a pretense of humility, openly relying on its desire to remake society according to its own “new insight” into the “nature of injustice.” Ante, at 11, 23. As a result, the Court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the States and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs. Just who do we think we are?
It can be tempting for judges to confuse our own preferences with the requirements of the law. But as this Court
has been reminded throughout our history, the Constitution “is made for people of fundamentally differing views.” Lochner v. New York, 198 U. S. 45, 76 (1905) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Accordingly, “courts are not concerned with the wisdom or policy of legislation.” Id., at 69 (Harlan, J., dissenting). The majority today neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role. It seizes for itself a question the Constitution leaves to the people, at a time when the people are engaged in a vibrant debate on that question. And it answers that question based not on neutral principles of constitutional law, but on its own “understanding of what freedom is and must become.” Ante, at 19. I have no choice but to dissent.
Understand well what this dissent is about: It is not about whether, in my judgment, the institution of marriage
should be changed to include same-sex couples. It is instead about whether, in our democratic republic, that decision should rest with the people acting through their elected representatives, or with five lawyers who happen to hold commissions authorizing them to resolve legal disputes according to law. The Constitution leaves no doubt about the answer
10:43: Roberts responds to the Kennedy’s “four factors” by calling it simple policymaking disguised as constitutional law:
The majority purports to identify four “principles and traditions” in this Court’s due process precedents that support a fundamental right for same-sex couples to marry. Ante, at 12. In reality, however, the majority’s approach has no basis in principle or tradition, except for the unprincipled tradition of judicial policymaking that characterized discredited decisions such as Lochner v. New York, 198 U. S. 45. Stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss, the majority’s argument is that the Due Process Clause gives same-sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society. If I were a legislator, I would certainly consider that view as a matter of social policy. But as a judge, I find the majority’s position indefensible as a matter of constitutional law.
And later:
The majority’s driving themes are that marriage is desirable and petitioners desire it. The opinion describes the “transcendent importance” of marriage and repeatedly insists that petitioners do not seek to “demean,” “devalue,” “denigrate,” or “disrespect” the institution. Ante, at 3, 4, 6, 28. Nobody disputes those points. Indeed, the compelling personal accounts of petitioners and others like them are likely a primary reason why many Americans have changed their minds about whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. As a matter of constitutional law, however, the sincerity of petitioners’ wishes is not
According to Roberts, the majority’s approach is simply Lochnerism. After reviewing the history of substantive due process and Lochner’s rise and fall, Roberts writes:
The majority acknowledges none of this doctrinal background, and it is easy to see why: Its aggressive application
of substantive due process breaks sharply with decades of precedent and returns the Court to the unprincipled approach of Lochner.
. . .
Ultimately, only one precedent offers any support for the majority’s methodology: Lochner v. New York, 198 U. S. 45. The majority opens its opinion by announcing petitioners’ right to “define and express their identity.” Ante, at 1–2. The majority later explains that “the right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy.” Ante, at 12. This freewheeling notion of individual autonomy echoes nothing so much as “the general right of an individual to be free in his person and in his power to contract in relation to his own labor.” Lochner, 198 U. S., at 58 (emphasis added).
To be fair, the majority does not suggest that its individual autonomy right is entirely unconstrained. The constraints it sets are precisely those that accord with its own “reasoned judgment,” informed by its “new insight” into the “nature of injustice,” which was invisible to all who came before but has become clear “as we learn [the] meaning” of liberty. Ante, at 10, 11. The truth is that today’s decision rests on nothing more than the majority’s own conviction that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry because they want to, and that “it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right.” Ante, at 19. Whatever force that belief may have as a matter of moral philosophy, it has no more basis in the Constitution than did the naked policy preferences adopted in Lochner. See 198 U. S., at 61 (“We do not believe in the soundness of the views which uphold this law,” which “is an illegal interference with the rights of individuals . . . to make contracts regarding labor upon such terms as they may think best”).
The majority recognizes that today’s cases do not mark “the first time the Court has been asked to adopt a cautious
approach to recognizing and protecting fundamental rights.” Ante, at 25. On that much, we agree. The Court was “asked”—and it agreed—to “adopt a cautious approach” to implying fundamental rights after the debacle of the Lochner era. Today, the majority casts caution aside and revives the grave errors of that period.
Near the end of its opinion, the majority offers perhaps the clearest insight into its decision. Expanding marriage to include same-sex couples, the majority insists, would “pose no risk of harm to themselves or third parties.” Ante, at 27. This argument again echoes Lochner, which relied on its assessment that “we think that a law like the one before us involves neither the safety, the morals nor the welfare of the public, and that the interest of the public is not in the slightest degree affected by such an act.” 198 U. S., at 57.
Then and now, this assertion of the “harm principle” sounds more in philosophy than law.
Roberts concludes by advocating judicial restraint:
In the face of all this, a much different view of the Court’s role is possible. That view is more modest and restrained. It is more skeptical that the legal abilities of judges also reflect insight into moral and philosophical issues. It is more sensitive to the fact that judges are unelected and unaccountable, and that the legitimacy of their power depends on confining it to the exercise of legal judgment. It is more attuned to the lessons of history, and what it has meant for the country and Court when Justices have exceeded their proper bounds. And it is less pretentious than to suppose that while people around the world have viewed an institution in a particular way for thousands of years, the present generation and the present Court are the ones chosen to burst the bonds of that history and tradition.
* * *
If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.
11:02: Justice Scalia files an additional dissent, joined by Thomas, advocating judicial restraint. It opens:
The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance.Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of
Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.
According to Justice Scalia, the unrepresentative nature of Justices makes social policymaking by them amount to “social transformation without representation”:
Judges are selected precisely for their skill as lawyers; whether they reflect the policy views of a particular constituency is not (or should not be) relevant. Not surprisingly then, the Federal Judiciary is hardly a cross-section of America. Take, for example, this Court, which consists of only nine men and women, all of them successful lawyers who studied at Harvard or Yale Law School. Four of the nine are natives of New York City. Eight of them grew up in east- and west-coast States. Only one hails from the vast expanse in-between. Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner (California does not count). Not a single evangelical Christian (a group that comprises about one quarter of Americans), or even a Protestant of any denomination.
The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval would be irrelevant if they were functioning as judges, answering the legal question whether the American people had ever ratified a constitutional provision that was understood to proscribe the traditional definition of marriage. But of course the Justices in today’s majority are not voting on that basis; they say they are not. And to allow the policy question of same-sex marriage to be considered and resolved by a select, patrician, highly unrepresentative panel of nine is to violate a principle even more fundamental than no taxation without representation: no social transformation without representation.
Scalia then criticizes the majority’s reasoning for being muddled:
The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so. Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent. “The nature of marriage is that, through its enduring bond, two persons together can find other freedoms, such as expression, intimacy, and spirituality.” (Really? Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality [whatever that means] were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie. Expression, sure enough, is a freedom, but anyone in a long-lasting marriage will attest that that happy state constricts, rather than expands, what one can prudently say.) Rights, we are told, can “rise . . . from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era.” (Huh? How can a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives [whatever that means] define [whatever that means] an urgent liberty [never mind], give birth to a right?) And we are told that, “[i]n any particular case,” either the Equal Protection or Due Process Clause “may be thought to capture the essence of [a] right in a more accurate and comprehensive way,” than the other, “even as the two Clauses may converge in the identification and definition of the right.” (What say? What possible “essence” does substantive due process “capture” in an “accurate and comprehensive way”? It stands for nothing whatever, except those freedoms and entitlements that this Court really likes. And the Equal Protection Clause, as employed today, identifies nothing except a difference in treatment that this Court really dislikes. Hardly a distillation of essence. If the opinion is correct that the two clauses “converge in the identification and definition of [a] right,” that is only because the majority’s likes and dislikes are predictably compatible.) I could go on. The world does not expect logic and precision in poetry or inspirational pop-philosophy; it demands them in the law. The stuff contained in today’s opinion has to diminish this Court’s reputation for clear thinking and sober analysis.
11:13: Justice Thomas also dissents, joined by Scalia, and he offers an originalist analysis and argues, among other things, that the majority is wrong to claim that the right to get married is a “liberty” interest:
[T]he States have refused to grant them governmental entitlements. Petitioners claim that as a matter of “liberty,” they are entitled to access privileges and benefits that exist solely because of the government. They want, for example, to receive the State’s imprimatur on their marriages—on state issued marriage licenses, death certificates, or other official forms. And they want to receive various monetary benefits, including reduced inheritance taxes upon the death of a spouse, compensation if a spouse dies as a result of a work-related injury, or loss of consortium damages in tort suits. But receiving governmental recognition and benefits has nothing to do with any understanding of “liberty” that the Framers would have
11:18: Justice Alito dissents. In addition to legal arguments that resemble those of the other dissenters, especially the judicial restrain argument, Alito expresses concerns about how the new decision may impact future public debates:
[Today’s decision] will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy. In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and
women. E.g., ante, at 11–13. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to
stamp out every vestige of dissent.
Perhaps recognizing how its reasoning may be used, the majority attempts, toward the end of its opinion, to reassure
those who oppose same-sex marriage that their rights of conscience will be protected. Ante, at 26–27. We will soon see whether this proves to be true. I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.
The system of federalism established by our Constitution provides a way for people with different beliefs to live together in a single nation. If the issue of same-sex marriage had been left to the people of the States, it is likely that some States would recognize same-sex marriage and others would not. It is also possible that some States would tie recognition to protection for conscience rights. The majority today makes that impossible. By imposing its own views on the entire country, the majority facilitates the marginalization of the many Americans who have traditional ideas. Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation
will experience bitter and lasting wounds.
I’ll finish there. I’m sure I’ve missed some of the key parts of the opinion, but hopefully these excerpts at least provide a gist of the new decision and the dissents.
Orin Kerr is the Fred C. Stevenson Research Professor at The George Washington University Law School, where he has taught since 2001. He teaches and writes in the area of criminal procedure and computer crime law.
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What Michigan can do to reduce the state's prison population | Michigan Radio

See - What Michigan can do to reduce the state's prison population | Michigan Radio

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What are we really getting for the $2 billion we spend per year on corrections? And how can we trim that corrections bill?
A nonpartisan, non-profit group called the Citizens Alliance for Prisons and Public Spending, or CAPPS, offers strategies for cutting our prison population by 10,000 inmates. They say this is possible without impacting public safety.
These reforms could save the state $250 million a year, according to Barbara Levine of CAPPS.
"Michigan's average prisoner length of stay ... is substantially longer than the national average."
Currently our prison population is over 43,000 and Levine says this high rate came through the tough sentencing strategies of the 70s, 80s and 90s. She says the goal was to keep people in prison for as long as possible and they brought tougher parole policies with them.
"Michigan's average prisoner length of stay, the amount of time prisoners serve in the state, is substantially longer than the national average," says Levine.
And she says there is no proof that Michigan is any safer than other states because of this. 
CAPPS has a number of suggestions for reducing the current population and decreasing the number of people who have to serve time.
Levine advocates for addressing the cause of people's behavior through higher participation in and availability of substance abuse and mental health programs.
"Corrections and county jails have become the biggest provider of mental health services in this state," she says, citing an increase in money spent on mental health services in prisons coinciding with the funding cuts for state mental health hospitals.
According to Levine, Michigan is also only one of nine states where the age of criminal responsibility is under 18, and she says the number of 17 year olds the state pays to keep in prison can add up.
Recently, a bill cleared the House Criminal Justice Committee that would enact presumptive parole. Levine is a proponent of this new system, which would grant prisoners parole once they've served their minimum sentence if they fall into a low risk category of re-offending according to the Department of Corrections parole guidelines.
For those who question the safety of releasing prisoners, Levine says, "Nothing in any of our proposals will prevent a judge from giving a long sentence to someone who has committed a serious crime. Nothing would require the parole board to release somebody where there's evidence that they're currently a risk. Nothing would effect the rights of victims to present their concerns at sentencing or during the parole process."
"We have to stop and think who we're locking up and why and look at their actual risk as opposed to the rhetoric," she says.
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High court strikes down ‘vague’ part of criminal law

See - High court strikes down ‘vague’ part of criminal law

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The Supreme Court on Friday struck down part of a federal law that is intended keep people convicted of repeated violent crimes in prison longer.
The justices ruled that a catchall phrase in the Armed Career Criminal Act defining what crimes make a defendant eligible for a longer prison term is too vague.
The court sided with defendant Samuel James Johnson, who pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges in 2012. Johnson was sentenced to 15 years in prison — five more than he otherwise would have gotten — because of his prior convictions.
That law lists burglary, arson, extortion and the use of explosive as specific categories of previous crimes that can lead to a longer sentence. But then it also says a violent felony is a crime that “otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”
The court initially agreed to hear Johnson’s case to decide whether mere possession of a sawed-off shotgun qualifies as a violent felony under the enhanced sentencing law.
But in January, two months after hearing the case, the court ordered another round of arguments over whether that catchall phrase was so vague as to be unconstitutional.
Six justices agreed that the catchall phrase in the law is unconstitutional. Two others agreed only on the outcome, saying they would find that Johnson’s conviction for possession of the sawed-off shotgun does not qualify as a felony under the law.
The justices have struggled with this phrase for years. Justice Antonin Scalia had called on his colleagues to rule it unconstitutional since 2011.
The Armed Career Criminal Act makes defendants eligible for longer prison terms if they have three prior convictions for crimes that are either violent felonies or serious drug offenses. Misdemeanors also qualify if they have maximum prison terms of more than two years.
According to federal authorities, Johnson is a white supremacist who formed the Aryan Liberation Movement. He was arrested in 2012 for taking part in a plan to attack the government, minorities and others, the government said.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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SCOTUS Upholds Same Sex Marriage - CourtSide

See - SCOTUS Upholds Same Sex Marriage - CourtSide

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SCOTUS Upholds Same Sex Marriage

Today, the Supreme Court of the United States changed the way Americans view marriage. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the 14th Amendment requires states to permit same sex marriages within their boundaries, and recognize the marriages of same sex citizens from other states. 

The Majority

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority of the justices (himself, and Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg, and Beyer) and began his opinion by noting how ancient and honored marriage is in our culture. It is also, Justice Kennedy noted, an institution of both continuity and of change. Therefore, with our modern understanding of family and civil rights, the conclusion must be reached that the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the 14th Amendment require all states to recognize same sex marriage.

The Dissent

Of course the Justices in the minority, Thomas (joined by Scalia), Alito (joined by Scalia and Thomas), Roberts (joined by Scalia and Thomas) and Scalia (joined by Thomas) had objections to the reasoning of the majority. In a dissent so strongly worded it has been called "mean spirited" Justice Scalia opined this decision was no less than a "threat to American democracy." 
However, don't take our word for it. In a democracy (such as still exists in America, Justice Scalia notwithstanding), we strive to be transparent. The full opinion of the majority and the dissents of the minority are below. Read for yourself and decide if this decision brings more equality, or less democracy to our country. 

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US Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizes gay marriage nationwide | Reuters

See - Supreme Court's landmark ruling legalizes gay marriage nationwide | Reuters

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The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.
The court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution's guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the landmark ruling, gay marriage becomes legal in all 50 states.
Immediately after the decision, same-sex couples in many of states where gay marriage had been banned headed to county clerks’ offices for marriage licenses as state officials issued statements saying they would respect the ruling.
President Barack Obama, appearing in the White House Rose Garden, hailed the ruling as a milestone in American justice that arrived "like a thunderbolt."
"This ruling is a victory for America," said Obama, the first sitting president to support gay marriage. "This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are treated as equal, we are all more free."
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said the hope of gay people intending to marry "is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."
Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court's four liberal justices.
Kennedy, appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1988, has now authored all four of the court's major gay rights rulings, with the first coming in 1996. As with his 2013 opinion when the court struck down a federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples, Kennedy stressed the dignity of marriage.
"Without the recognition, stability and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser," Kennedy wrote.
In a blistering dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said the decision shows the court is a "threat to American democracy." The ruling "says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court," Scalia added.
Conservative Chief Justice John Roberts read a summary of his dissent from the bench, the first time he has done so in his 10 years on the court. Roberts said although there are strong policy arguments in same-sex marriage, it was not the court's role to force states to change their marriage laws.
"Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law," Roberts wrote.
The dissenters raised concerns about the impact of the case on people opposed to same-sex marriage on religious grounds.
Although the ruling only affects state laws and religious institutions can still choose whether to marry same-sex couples, Roberts predicted future legal conflicts.
"Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage," Roberts said. Roberts gave as an example a religious college that provides married student housing only to opposite-sex couples.
The ruling is the Supreme Court's most important expansion of marriage rights in the United States since its landmark 1967 ruling in the case Loving v. Virginia that struck down state laws barring interracial marriages.
There were 13 state bans in place, while another state, Alabama, had contested a court ruling that lifted the ban there.
The ruling is the latest milestone in the gay rights movement in recent years. In 2010, Obama signed a law allowing gays to serve openly in the U.S. military. In 2013, the high court ruled unconstitutional a 1996 U.S. law that declared for the purposes of federal benefits marriage was defined as between one man and one woman.
Reaction came swiftly. James Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the case, told a cheering crowd outside the Supreme Court, "Today's ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts - our love is equal, that the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court - equal justice under law - apply to us, too."
Hundreds of gay rights supporters celebrated outside the courthouse with whoops and cries of "U-S-A!" and "Love is love" as the decision came down.
Conservatives denounced the ruling. Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said, "This flawed, failed decision is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny." Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum lamented that five "unelected judges redefined the foundational unit of society."
Opponents say same-sex marriage legality should be decided by states, not judges. Some opponents argue it is an affront to traditional marriage between a man and a woman and that the Bible condemns homosexuality.
Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, wrote on Twitter she was "proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality."
The decision follows rapid changes in attitudes and policies toward gay marriage in America. It was not until 2003 that the Supreme Court threw out state laws banning gay sex. And it was not until 2004 that the Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay marriage has gained increasing acceptance in opinion polls in recent years, particularly among younger Americans.
Gay marriage also is gaining acceptance in other Western countries. Last month in Ireland, voters backed same-sex marriage by a landslide in a referendum that marked a dramatic social shift in the traditionally Roman Catholic country.
Ireland followed several Western European countries including Britain, France and Spain in allowing gay marriage, which is also legal in South Africa, Brazil and Canada. But homosexuality remains taboo and often illegal in many parts of Africa and Asia.
The Supreme Court's ruling came in a consolidated case pulling together challenges filed by same-sex couples to gay marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
The Obama administration argued on the side of the same-sex marriage advocates.
The legal repercussions for same-sex couples are broad, affecting not just their right to marry but also their right to be recognized as a spouse or parent on birth and death certificates and other legal papers.
(Additional reporting by Joan Biskupic, Megan Cassella, Bill Trott; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Gay rights supporters celebrate after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, outside the Supreme Court building in Washington, June 26, 2015.
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