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Posts Tagged ‘SCOTUS’

This past weekend back in Nashville, Bob and I stole the Love Bug for an afternoon. Our local Nature Center, Shelby Bottoms, http://www.nashville.gov/Parks-and-Recreation/Nature-Centers-and-Natural-Areas/Shelby-Bottoms-Nature-Center.aspx sits on the side of the Cumberland River with tug boats pushing gigantic barges right by lovely hiking trails. And to mark the Center’s 10th Anniversary, they had a party with wood cutting artist, Julie Sola, engaging people of all ages. Julie had prepared gorgeous cuttings of local birds and taught the Bug how to roll on the ink and press out a design.

And of course, we had birthday cake!

Today, the Supreme Court will take up the merits of wedding cakes. One might think that if your business was a bakery, you should not be able to discriminate against anyone…for any reason. But this particular baker in Colorado refused to create a cake for a same-sex couple, and now he gets to plead his case before the highest court in the land. In a way around the issue, his lawyers have framed the argument differently:

In June, however, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the baker’s claim that designing a custom wedding cake involves expression. If so, forcing him to design a cake that violates his views conflicts with the freedom of speech protected by the 1st Amendment, his lawyers say. The justices will not hear his separate claim that requiring him to make a custom cake violates his right to the “free exercise” of religion also protected by the 1st Amendment.”                             http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-court-wedding-cake-20171205-story.html

Now I’m not a lawyer, but “free speech” and the “free exercise of religion” have been used as synonyms by the Religious Right for ages. Let’s put the Ten Commandments up in our court house square, let’s all hold hands and pray before the football game. It’s like they forgot why our country threw off the yoke of Great Britain in the first place – the Anglican church didn’t speak for Thomas Jefferson. In fact, he wrote his own Bible! “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth,” which omitted pretty much every miracle in the Bible because our Founders believed in science and reason.

You’d have to think Jefferson would have fought against Climate Change from the get go, and not worried over Personhood claims, or cakes for that matter.

When the Bride and Groom married on the adjoining Blue Ridge mountaintop to Monticello, they disdained the traditional wedding cake. My reluctant Bride wanted cupcakes, there would be no ceremonial cutting of the cake and smashing a piece into someone’s mouth. They incorporated Jewish and Christian tradition into their ceremony, including a reading of “The Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real.”

Christianity is, after all, a Jewish sect that got really really popular. But what if Judaism was the dominant religion in this US of A? Or Hinduism? Should our restaurants only serve dairy and meat on different nights? Or maybe only serve vegan meals? And btw, we only create gluten-free wedding cakes for couples who fit our limited, fundamental definition of the Bible…

If you want to go to pastry school, but you don’t want to bake a cake for a black and white couple, or an immigrant couple, or a hillbilly couple, or a mixed-faith couple (you get the drift) then just make baking your hobby. Pick something else, be a dog catcher, or an electrician. Be a park ranger! Don’t bother the Supremes with your myth.

I’ve been telling my grands that when I cook, I add this very special ingredient, TLC. And they totally get it – from carrot cake to lasagne, there is no room for hate in my hands.

The Love Bug wanted a piece of the Shelby Bottoms’ birthday cake with the red balloon, so of course I skillfully executed the perfect slice for her. Julie talked about her children’s book, the story of a dog named Milo, while the Bug recounted our story of Miss Bean catching a bird in mid-flight, right before our very eyes. I screamed and made her drop the poor thing. Then she displayed her creation. My Grand Daughter had drawn flowers and stars on the paper before adding the chickadee print. And it was pretty darn sweet!

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Ageism. It’s hard to avoid these days since many of us will live for nearly a century. Each “woman of a certain age” knows what I mean when I say there comes a time when we become invisible. Young people, after all, are walking around chasing invisible fictional characters on their ‘dumb’ phones. We, otoh, are trying to find ours!

So it came as no surprise that the Donald would malign my hero, the Notorious RBG, by saying on Twitter of course, “Her mind is shot – resign.” Not the best use of “shot” as a noun, the day after that Dallas Police memorial service. Still, 83 year old Justice Ginsburg said in an interview she thought the GOP front-runner was a “faker.”

“At first I thought it was funny,” she said of Trump’s early candidacy. “To think that there’s a possibility that he could be president … ” Her voice trailed off gloomily.
“I think he has gotten so much free publicity,” she added, drawing a contrast between what she believes is tougher media treatment of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and returning to an overriding complaint: “Every other presidential candidate has turned over tax returns.”  http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/12/politics/justice-ruth-bader-ginsburg-donald-trump-faker/

There’s something radical about a woman who speaks her mind. But a woman in a black robe, how dare she?

Bob has seen many a nursing home patient with little to no mind left, and it’s not pretty or something to hurl at a Supreme Court Justice. In fact, he once saw a woman who had forgotten how to cook. I asked him if that could ever happen to me; then I thought, would it be such a bad thing? Never to cook again?

But let’s leave women out of the kitchen for a minute and think about the GOP platform for 2016, it’s as if they are playing a game of one step forward, five steps back. They don’t want to play “identity politics” by ensuring the rights of the LGBT community, but the fetus still has an identity. “Personhood” should be protected. Oh, and just when women won the right to equal pay and to serve in the front lines of the armed forces, the GOP thought it better if we ladies stayed out of combat. Better yet, back in the kitchen. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/republican-platform-continues-move-right-day-two-n608031

Since we are still without air conditioning, this is the fifth day, my mind is starting to melt. I left the house one day without my dumb/smart phone AND my glasses! I’ve been trying not to cook for the simple reason that 83 degrees is too hot to play with fire. Supposedly, the part will be in and the tech will fix our AC unit tomorrow…sometime tomorrow. Meanwhile the humidity has returned and today should see us nearing 90. Fingers crossed.

But back to the shot mind. I love following Glenn Greenwald on Twitter @gggreenwald. He is a reporter without an agenda. Here is what he had to say about the latest kerfuffle:

“Hard to take seriously court impartiality/Ginsburg furor after 5 GOP-appointed judges stopped vote-counting & made George W. Bush president”

Now that says it all! Yessiree, I will be voting this November with a mind to keep the Supreme Court on the right side of history. I think Bernie’s revolution has just begun, and it will start with our first woman President. And just so you know, I will be forgoing Snapchat and Pokemon Now. My mind can only tech so much.

Here we are at the Apple Genius Bar, trying to catch up. And ps, Bob actually installed 16 RAMs of memory in my MacBook Pro, so my hot messy mind has a fast laptop. Take that young’uns!!  IMG_4808

 

 

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courtesy of Steff's Instagram

courtesy of Steff’s Instagram

The Supremes never fail to surprise me. Kudos to SCOTUS for protecting our cell phone privacy rights during a police search, and unanimously no less, which means really we blue and red states should all be able to get along.  And then they go and rule against buffer zones around abortion clinics in MA.

The court said the state law violated the First Amendment because its “buffer zone” limited speech too broadly, covering 35 feet from the doorway of facilities and including public areas like sidewalks.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/06/supreme-court-massachusetts-abortion-buffer-zone-mccullen-v-coakley-108348.html#ixzz362N9mDxe

So now anyone who would like to speak to a woman, a total stranger, kindly and gently about why she’s determined to do this procedure (not their words) and push graphic floating fetus leaflets into her hands is allowed to approach her on a sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood. The caveat was that the Chief Justice advised MA to consider doing what NY has done – make it a crime to harass anyone within 15 feet of a reproductive health care facility.

In other words, tighten up the language people!

I don’t know, I like the term buffer zone. I remember the buffer from biology 101 many years ago; it’s important in regulating the PH of a cell. Without a buffer zone, changes in the environment of all living things would go haywire. Adding a buffer keeps us all on an even keel so to speak.

I always pictured it as a moat around the castle, the castle might be a liver cell and the buffer moat is protecting its function…if the moat gets to flowing over its banks the liver can’t function. If the moat dries up, bad cells will invade.

Last weekend we had some friends visiting us from MN with their little boy, Opti. First of all, I love his name. And second I love boys in 6th grade, they are figuring out the world and willing to try just about anything. We watched the USA tie Portugal in the World Cup and he explained some of the rules of the game which was great.

But his mom, Steff, had to return to the Minneapple because she’s a commissioner on the Parks and Rec Board and POTUS was visiting the overflowing banks of their rivers and streams. Steff and her family normally ride their bikes to work and school, they keep bees in their urban garden – I like to think if I were younger and living in a city, I’d be as green and ecologically driven as she is. IMHO she is a rock star! And she got to shake the President’s hand, and be up close and personal as he delivered this speech http://www.scribd.com/doc/231560097/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Town-Hall

The President talked about many things besides the floodwaters. And it made me think that maybe the problem with this intractable Congress is their buffer zone, that place where lobbyists and money flow freely into and out of the castle Capital. That space where special interests and corporations get to frame our laws so that the Constitution becomes an instrument of power for some, and not for all.  And instead of suing our President Mr. Boehner, might you consider letting down the bridge over your moat?

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I’m in love with two women. There, I said it. One is a widow, 83 years old, who studied  mathematics and worked at IBM, and the other is a single mom, 50 years old, who graduated from Harvard law School.

Largely because of Edith Windsor, the Rosa Parks in the fight for Marriage Equality, our nation is one step closer to that goal. It is already the law in France, and now California will have to re-legalize same-sex marriage.  Can Virginia be far behind? Windsor is a feisty senior citizen, who got a bill in the mail from the IRS that made her mad.

“Plaintiff Edith Windsor is an 83 year old resident of New York, who legally married her same-sex partner of over 40 years, Thea, in Canada in 2007. The State of New York recognized their marriage, but the United States government did not. Sadly, Edith’s wife, Thea, died in 2009. When Thea died, her estate was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes that would not have been assessed if Thea and Edith were not a lesbian couple.”  http://www.marriageequality.org/Federal-cases-DOMA

In United States v Windsor, SCOTUS struck down DOMA as you’ve probably heard, saying that it was unconstitutional to discriminate against one group of people because of the gender of their partner in marriage. I particularly liked this phrase: “…(DOMA’s) effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity.” Then they turned around and threw out Prop 8 in California! Well done SCOTUS!

I’m thinking of a second career as a wedding planner in San Francisco. Hey, I managed to make the magic happen on a mountain in an apple orchard! Well, with a lot of help.

The second woman I’m in love with this morning is Sen Wendy Davis of TX. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/26/who-is-wendy-davis/

Because I’m on the Twittisphere, I followed along in real time on her filibuster in pink sneakers. The NYT called her a “Fashion icon” on the Hill, but she is so much more than a pretty face. What guts, what glory! I could not stand for nearly 13 hours without a potty break. The GOP in the lone star state, those anti-choice politicians so affectionately called “Gynoticians” because of their untiring need to legislate a woman’s body, were trying to sneak in a crippling blow of TRAP bills that would have closed most of the Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. Go ahead you idiot Govenor, try to reconvene and pass those bills. I’m sure there will be people spilling out all over your state house. We women love our bodies enough to fight for them.

We usually know when and how we get pregnant. We know what a rape kit does and does not do. We don’t like to undergo unnecessary and unwanted vaginal probes anywhere and at any time. And yes, we usually know who we love right from the start. Our knees get weak and our hearts start racing, and before you know it we’ve got a ring on our finger – or a brooch –  as Edith and Thea had to hide their relationship. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/26/edith-windsor-thea-spyer-doma

The government may stop disparaging and injuring women now.

edith windor

Photo by Bless Bless Productions

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I was going to do a six-worded, pictorial memoir of Spring so far, but there’s just too much going on right now. No, it’s not a shoe sale at Scarpa, or a fox sighting. Although Bob did spot a juvenile fox strolling around the yard yesterday. I’m talking about the big news coming down from the high court this week, about genes.

The US Supreme Court, while thinking that corporations are just like you and me, has decided that our human genes should stay in the public domain. It’s like saying to a patent attorney, “Get lost!” this red hair is mine and I’m keeping it. Pretty much every scientist I know took a collective sigh of relief after this ruling. However in the Association for Molecular Pathology vs Myriad Genetics case, SCOTUS followed up with a coda –  “(synthetic) cDNA is not a “product of nature,” so it is patent eligible under §101. cDNA does not present the same obstacles to patentability as naturally occurring, isolated DNA segments.”  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-398_1b7d.pdf

Bob explained it to me this way – Let’s say a musician writes a symphony. He/she, and or their company, can patent that song, the sequence of notes that makes the music happen. But the notes themselves cannot be patented; the violins, the drums, the cello and every instrument used to compose that opus cannot be patented, and must stay in the public domain.

The linchpin of this decision, one that may allow for too many loopholes is the phrase that states only when a researcher creates something that is “…not naturally occurring,” then, and only then will they receive a patent. The Court was considering the genetic sequence, in this case, of the BRCA breast cancer gene.

So on one hand the Court is saying that: gene-coded information is what really matters when it occurs “naturally,” and isolating one gene in a sequence is not inventing something new and therefore NOT patentable; but on the other hand, synthetic “cDNA is different from naturally occurring RNA, even though both hold exactly the same genetic information. ”  This is less of a distinction, and more of a contradiction.

But what can we do? Will it help to stem the tide of all those newly minted MD/PhDs out there from going abroad to continue their research? Will it make genetic testing more affordable, like the testing Angelina Jolie decided to have? I once had a genetic test done when I was pregnant with the Rocker. I was 35 and considered an old lady by medical standards, so we traveled to a research facility in CT where a very young doctor inserted a very big needle into my extremely big abdomen.  Something happened in the lab. They never told us what, and only some of the testing was completed; I didn’t know the sex, and only learned that my baby did not have spina bifida. So, they were all ready to make a repeat appointment for me in the OR – they wanted to do a second amniocentesis.

“…amniocentesis is a procedure used to obtain a small sample of the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus to diagnose chromosomal disorders and open neural tube defects (ONTDs) such as spina bifida. There is a small risk of miscarriage associated with amniocentesis which must be balanced with the risk of an abnormality and the patient’s desires.”

I had watched my baby Rocker, on an early ultrasound monitor in 1984, back away from that needle once, and I was not about to do it again. After 3 miscarriages the year before, Bob took one look at me and told the genetic counselor, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Here is my handsome boy at his sister’s wedding, with all 10 toes and 10 musical fingers.J&M  0602

A little history of US Patent Law from 1793 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_United_States_patent_law

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“Hello Mrs Miller, this is Harvey Johnson can I speak to Debra Sue?” Did you hear about Hugo and Kim; did they really get pinned? And are you guessing where I’m going? No, Bob and I did not play in Bye Bye Birdie in high school, although come to think of it, that would have been swell. But after hearing about our government’s secret court order to direct Verizon, my cell carrier and virtually every family member and friend’s too, to turn over their metadata, not sometimes, but on an “ongoing basis,” I was flabbergasted. Or to use a more British term, since the Guardian broke the story, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/06/nsa-phone-records-verizon-court-order Gobsmacked!

OK, slowly but surely I realize that privacy is becoming so last year. Everybody is tweeting, linking in, texting and Facebooking their lives away in public. But at least you can decide which picture goes up on Facebook. Look at me, I’m blogging to you right now, but at least I’m in charge of what I’m saying. I control what can be seen, and try to keep some sense of privacy by referring to my kids with pseudonyms. Now, I’m assuming, the NSA knows how often and how long I talk with the Bride. And who I’m voting for on The Voice!  BL5Da16CQAAqdjZ.jpg-large

Now you know too. I love The Voice, I admit it, send me to Gitmo.

Remember when I told you how our little town was the first in the country to outright ban the use of drones? Well that brave measure came from Charlottesville’s Rutherford Institute,  a nonprofit organization “…dedicated to the defense of civil liberties and human rights.” It seems fitting that Mr Jefferson’s Village would host such an organization. And the Rutherford’s director, constitutional law attorney John W Whitehead, recently wrote a book that has a few tongues wagging. A Government of Wolves posits we are fast becoming a police state – think about the overused and possibly racist “stop and frisk” programs in big cities, and think about when the city of Boston was put on a lockdown after the Marathon bombing.

The book “…paints a chilling portrait of a nation in the final stages of transformation into a police state, complete with surveillance cameras, drug-sniffing dogs, SWAT team raids, roadside strip searches, blood draws at DUI checkpoints, mosquito drones, tasers, privatized prisons, GPS tracking devices, zero tolerance policies, overcriminalization, and free speech zones.”   https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/on_the_front_lines/nprs_all_things_considered_weekend_edition_spotlights_constitutional_attorn

And this week SCOTUS rules in Maryland V King that the police can take your DNA just for being arrested! Secretly investigating newspaper reporters for possible security leaks is one thing, but as one intrepid news anchor named Roaseane Roaseannadanna used to say,  “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something–if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” Or as Former Vice-President Al Gore said in a tweet: “In a digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22793851

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Remember those first cell phones? Clunky things you had to charge in your car. We had a friend, an orthopedist in Monmouth County, NJ, who would pace along the Sea Bright beach each summer over 20 years ago talking on his gigantic cell phone. The long antennae would wave at us in the sea breeze. We all thought he must be hugely important. When did we go from doctors trading in their pagers, to plumbers to housewives and now kids carrying their lives around in their hands? At our Seder on Monday night, a 90+ year old gentleman named Gene, a family friend forever who still goes into his office every day, fielded two cell phone calls in the midst of songs and Haggadah. I guess no one told him about cell etiquette, although we were all taking pictures with our cells.

Traveling back to the Blue Ridge, Bob and I were listening with one ear to some of SCOTUS’ arguments in the car about same-sex marriage. BTW, I so wish they would place cameras in the Supreme Court. The phrase that caught my ear and eye was Justice Samuel Alito saying, “Same-sex marriage is younger than cell phones or the Internet.” Well yes but…, the internet is even older than that, and we all know how old sex is, straight, gay or even slightly crooked. It’s about as old as the oldest profession. What’s new is trying to separate our civil society from biblical or religious laws of any kind. In fact, that’s about as new as our country!

Only ex-Solicitor General and conservative thinker Teddy Olson seemed to make any sense of it yesterday saying, “You could have said [of interracial marriage] — you can’t get married, but you can have an interracial union. Everyone would know that that was wrong.” Which begs the question, how is a same-sex legal union different from a marriage? Is a label really that important? Olson compares Prop 8 and all same-sex marriage laws to the civil rights struggle. After all, Lincoln DID free the slaves, but it wasn’t until we saw dogs attacking people on a bridge in Selma that America got the message – so saying one thing IS fundamentally different from doing another. And in my mind, saying California was wrong in imposing Prop 8, the ban on gay marriage, does not go far enough

“Homosexuality, Olson maintains, is much like race. It is not a matter of choice. ‘We are what we are,’ he says. Indeed, he likens the Proposition 8 case to Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case in which the Supreme Court unanimously struck down a law that made interracial marriage a crime.” http://www.npr.org/2010/12/06/131792296/ted-olson-gay-marriage-s-unlikely-legal-warrior

1967, the first year of college for me in Boston. 1968, the year I marched down Commonwealth Avenue in protest after Martin Luther King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. We all know what basic human rights are – the right to love and marry anyone we choose – someone of a different race, religion, clan or even sex is a fundamental right in this country, is it not? Do we have a Taliban telling us what to wear? Do our parents arrange our marriages? We can walk into a town hall or a church or a “chapel” in Vegas and walk out married. Half of us can choose to divorce, we have the right to try that wedding gown on again and again. I watched my step-father, a judge, marry people in our parlor! Love is Love and we are who we are. Cell phones have evolved, and so must we.
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