Scalia's gay marriage irony
- 23 May 2014
A review of the best commentary on and around the world...
When Pennsylvania judge John E Jones III struck down his state's gay marriage ban, he did so by citing the recent landmark Supreme Court decision US v Windsor. In that case, the majority of the court held that the Defense of Marriage Act's requirement that the federal government not recognise same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.
Mr Jones relied on a "surprising ally to reach his conclusion", writes Reason magazine's Damon Root: conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who had authored a scathing dissenting opinion in the Windsor case.
In order to "perform a crucial piece of legal anaylsis", he says, Mr Jones drew directly from Mr Scalia's dissent, in which the justice criticised the decision's author, Justice Anthony Kennedy, for failing to give lower courts clear guidance when considering challenges to state marriage laws.
In dissent, Scalia lambasted Kennedy for sidestepping the Court's precedents governing equal protection cases. "The opinion," Scalia wrote in Windsor, "does not resolve and indeed does not even mention what had been the central question in this litigation: whether, under the Equal Protection Clause, laws restricting marriage to a man and a woman are reviewed for more than mere rationality."
Although Mr Kennedy did not explicitly state what level of review courts should use in cases like this, Mr Scalia said, lower courts could interpret the decision as grounds for holding gay-marriage bans to a higher standard and then strike them down.
That's exactly what the Pennsylvania judge "happily signed on to", writes Root, as have other judges across the country.
HotAir's Allahpundit doesn't blame Mr Scalia, however. He says what's happening is all going according to Mr Kennedy's plan.
"What you've seen over the past few months in the drumbeat of pro-same-sex-marriage federal rulings is Scalia being proved right," he writes .
He says that Mr Kennedy made a "tactically clever" move by being vague in his decision. It allowed lower courts to take the lead in overturning state laws, making it easier for the Supreme Court to eventually "rubber-stamp" the new reality.
Perhaps judges would be relying on the Supreme Court's decision even without Mr Scalia's sharply worded explanation of its implications. Still, the conservative justice can't be pleased that his words are helping judges craft rulings that he likely finds abhorrent.
Western intervention was worth it - French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy was one of the leading advocates for Western intervention in Libya's civil war. In an interview with BBC Newsnight on Thursday, he said that despite the country's recent struggles, the efforts were worthwhile.
Former Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi's rule was "one of the worst dictatorships of the last 40 or 50 years", Mr Henri-Levy asserted.
It is true that Libya is not "a valley of honey", he said, "but who can give lessons to the Libyan people? Surely not us French". Revolutions are messy, he continued, and Libya will have to endure hard times before conditions improve.
Without an intervention, he said, Libya would have become another Syria, with similar civilian casualty levels.
Outside meddling will make things worse - The world community reacted to Tuesday's military takeover in Thailand with universal condemnation. Much of the commentary, writes Pornpimol Kanchanalak in the Nation, was condescending and oblivious to the facts.
"Article after article in major Western media outlets has failed to mention the massive abuse of power on the part of the government, its corruption of epic proportions, and the blood and tears of poor farmers who broke their backs working the soil only to see the cash owed to them for their crops go into offshore and local bank accounts of politicians and their cronies," she writes.
It was the illegal actions of the Thai government that prompted the Constitutional Court and then the military to step in, she argues.
Thailand has never had a real democracy, she writes, only a phantom one. The military intervened give democracy space to breathe, she concludes, and foreign criticism and meddling "can be easily exploited to tip the level-playing field of our politics, thereby smashing any chance for us, no matter how slim, to find our own Holy Grail".
Voter apathy could be a blessing - While the initial headlines out of this week's European Parliament elections likely will be painful for EU supporters, writes John Wyles in the European Voice, the predicted success of left- and right-wing populists could force a healthy change.
Europe's political leaders "will be unable to avoid the task of reforming key policies and processes needed to rebuild and sustain public support and trust in the EU", he writes.
European leaders should "harness the populist tide" and use it to push through meaningful changes that will make the EU more effective.
"Its priorities must include stimulating economic growth and promoting financial stability, negotiating new global climate change agreements, wrapping up a comprehensive trade deal with the United States, and applying sanctions to punish breaches of international laws," he concludes.
Putin's Asia pivot - This week's natural gas deal between Russia and China weakens the West's leverage over Russia in Ukraine, writes the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer.
Not only that, he continues, the alignment of the world's two largest anti-Western nations "marks a major alteration in the global balance of power". It rolls back President Richard Nixon's 1972 success in splitting the China-Russia alliance.
The world is headed toward a new bipolarity, he says, with "two global coalitions: one free, one not". Unlike the Cold War, he concludes, it's not a "fight to the finish", but it's still global struggle for "dominion and domination".
BBC Monitoring's quotes of the day
Israeli commentators discuss Pope Francis's weekend visit to Israel.
"Israel has an interest in the visit's success - every such visit in the era of boycott strengthens Israel and will bring a wave of tourism in its wake... Only there are hot-headed extremists who could turn it into a diplomatic and PR disaster." - Dan Margalit in Yisrael Hayom.
"There were times in history when Christian leaders brought ruination and destruction here; today they bring money and publicity. When the Pope arrives, the State of Israel carries out renovations; when he leaves, it forgets what it renovated." - Yoaz Hendel in Yedioth Aharonot.
"Today, a visit to Israel has become de rigueur for any self-respecting pope... This sea change marks normalisation in relations that would be remarkable considering the Church's long history of anti-Semitism if it were not so, well, normal... An especially warm, expressive and sensitive pope is on the way to the Holy Land to embrace Israel. A process begun 50 years ago of reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people continues." - Editorial in the Jerusalem Post.
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