February 23, 2013
The Same-Sex Marriages Before Supreme Court
From the Huffington Post:
Next month, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases concerning same-sex marriage. What are the legal issues?
United States v. Windsor (regarding DOMA)
In United States v. Windsor, the Supreme Court will determine the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton. Section 3 of DOMA provides that the word "marriage," as used in any federal law or regulation, means only a union of a man and a woman. This includes laws that govern veterans' benefits, tax adjustments, Social Security, and many other benefits.
Read more here.
February 22, 2013
Jones: "Questioning a Juvenile's Capacity for Criminal Liability in Street Gangs Post-J.D.B. v. North Carolina"
Elizabeth N. Jones (Western State College of Law) has posted "Questioning a Juvenile's Capacity for Criminal Liability in Street Gangs Post-J.D.B. v. North Carolina," 32 Children's Legal Rights Journal (Winter 2012) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This article explores how the recent groundswell of acceptance of adolescent neuroscience has manifested in United States Supreme Court cases involving juveniles, and the resultant implications for children accused of gang-related crimes and enhancements. Juvenile gang convictions proliferate, but the foundation of such prosecutions is precariously – and improperly – based. Though varied in title, predicate offenses, and penalties, most state gang legislation contains language requiring offenders to have at least a tacit understanding, or knowledge, that the group’s common purpose is to commit crimes to benefit the gang. However, this mens rea required for anti-gang statutes, combined with the inability to know, without closer analysis, whether juveniles in fact possess such mens rea, creates a conundrum: children make up a significant proportion of gang membership, but yet lack the capacity to be prosecuted under current anti-gang legislation, especially given the new parameters set forth by the United States Supreme Court.
IL Senate Passes Same-Sex Marriage Bill
On Thursday, February 14, 2013, 33 Democrats and one Republican in the Illinois Senate passed a gay marriage bill; the bill will now move to the House for approval. Many believe if the bill is passed in Illinois, many other Midwest states could be spurred to pass similar bills in the near future. The bill echoes the state's growing voter support. A poll by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale showed 45% of surveyors support gay marriage, up 11 percentage points from 2010.
Read more here.
February 21, 2013
Eyer: "Constitutional Colorblindness and the Family"
Katie R. Eyer (Rutgers School of Law -- Camden) has posted her paper "Constitutional Colorblindness and the Family" (forthcoming, University of Pennsylvania Law Review) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Family law has escaped the colorblindness revolution. During the same time frame that the Supreme Court has adopted increasingly stringent constitutional standards for even “benign” uses of race (including most notably affirmative action), the lower courts have continued to take a loose and permissive approach to many government uses of race in the family. Thus, courts have continued to regularly affirm (and to apply minimal constitutional scrutiny to) the use of race to determine foster care and adoptive placements, as well as the use of race as a factor in custody disputes between interracial parents.
This paper, drawing on heretofore unexplored historical sources, examines the Supreme Court’s role in the development of these divergent approaches to the use of race in the affirmative action and family law contexts. As those sources demonstrate, the Court has — over the last 40 years — had numerous opportunities to address the growing divide. Nevertheless the Court (and particularly its most strident affirmative action detractors) have been reluctant to do so, at least in part because of a normative endorsement of the race-based practices at issue in the family law context. Thus, the Court has avoided taking up cases involving the use of race in family law — and taken other steps to limit the reach of its doctrine in the family law arena — based on a normative perception that remaining instantiations of race in family law are, at their core, benign.
This history has profound implications for the Court’s broader race law jurisprudence. Supreme Court doctrine has — on its face — rejected the possibility of a role for normative judgments about the “benign” or “invidious” nature of particular race-based classifications in its Equal Protection doctrine. But the history of the Court’s approach to family law suggests strongly that the Court itself does in fact weigh such factors sub rosa in its approach to taking up and adjudicating race law claims. This article suggests that there are serious process, legitimacy and substantive concerns raised by such a divergence, and discusses alternatives for bringing the Court’s doctrine into greater alignment with its practice.
Pregnant Teen Wins Against Parents
From ABC News:
A pregnant teen who sued her parents, claiming they were coercing her to have an abortion, will be able to give birth to her baby.
Attorneys representing the 16-year-old girl were granted a long-term injunction against the girl's parents in Texas family court on Monday, according to court documents.
The teen is 10 weeks pregnant and the injunction will last for the duration of her pregnancy.
As part of the order, the girl will be able to use her car to go to school, work and medical appointments. Her parents had taken away the use of the car as part of their effort to force an abortion, court papers stated.
The teen's parents will be liable for half of the hospital bill when she gives birth, unless she is married to the baby's 16-year-old father.
Read more here.
Hat Tip: B.M.
February 20, 2013
From Jacoba Urist, writing for Today:
Few things get parents riled up like a discussion of nanny cams.
And that debate is taking center stage once again following the arrest of a 52-year old Staten Island nanny for allegedly slapping a 5-month old baby in the face – an act that authorities say was caught on on tape. According to NBC 4 New York, the video came from a camera hidden inside the home’s carbon monoxide detector.
Those in favor of nanny cams can't imagine leaving their kids alone without one.
Read more here.
IN Child Death Case
Marion County, Indiana, Judge Sheila Carlisle has ruled that Dr. Jolene Clouse's conclusion that a newborn baby's death was the result of her mother's ingesting rat poison is unreliable and cannot be used against the mother Bei Bei Shuai at her murder trial. Carlisle said that, because Clouse didn't specify how she knew for certain the rat poison was the cause of infant Angel Shuai's death instead of indomethacin, a drug given to pregnant women that can cause similar effects, combined with Clouse's failing to consider that brain bleeds often occur in premature infants without any clear cause, her reasoning was flawed.
Read more here.
February 19, 2013
Chafin Decision Rendered by Supreme Court
Same-Sex Adoption in Germany
The Jurist reports that same-sex couples in a civil union can legally adopt the non-biological children of their partners. Read it here.
Hat Tip: Angelique Devaux
OH Child Support Case
An Elyria, Ohio, judge has ordered 35-year-old Asim Taylor to stop fathering children because he cannot pay child support for his four current children. Taylor, originally indicted in August 2011 for owing almost $79,000 in child support to the mothers of his children, now owes more than $96,000 in payments. Taylor has pleaded guilty. Judge James Walther explained he put the condition on his sentencing because, "It's your personal responsibility to pay for these kids."
Read more here.
February 18, 2013
U.S. Supreme Court Adoption Case
The Supreme Court is hearing an adoption case this term. Read about it here.