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Unanimous Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage Would Be the Best Thing That Could Happen for Conservatives

“It’s happening, whether you like it or not!” – Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom

The big news this week is that the Supreme Court is hearing legal arguments on whether states can ban same-sex marriage. The lawyers have been chosen and a two hour argument has been allocated.

SCOTUS Gay Marriage DebateAt this point, the legalization of same-sex marriage is a foregone conclusion. The Court is split between 4 liberals and 4 conservatives, with Justice Kennedy serving as the “swing” vote. However, anyone who has been paying attention to same-sex marriage knows that Justice Kennedy wrote the previous Court cases decriminalizing homosexuality and overturning the federal Defense Against Marriage Act. Justice Kennedy wrote in broad, grand, sweeping language, and recognized same-sex marriage on the federal level using every legal theory possible.

Based on precedent, Justice Kennedy would rule against same-sex marriage when hell freezes over.

The Third Path

If the Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage 5-4, Justice Kennedy would almost certainly write the opinion. If he did, he would probably copy and paste his opinion from the case regarding same-sex marriage on the federal level and give homosexuals broad protection.

If that happens, the only way to overturn Kennedy would be to pass a Constitutional amendment or wait for another Supreme Court to take up a similar case.

For conservatives to avoid the judicial landslide, the conservative Justices on the Court would have to rule in favor of same-sex marriage and make the decision a 9-0. Why? If the Court was unanimous, then the Chief Justice could decide who writes the opinion. Chief Justice Roberts could designate another Justice to write the opinion, like Justice Scalia or Justice Thomas.

The benefit of having a conservative Justice write the opinion legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide would be that the Justice could control what rights are established. Currently, Justice Kennedy and proponents of the LGBT movement are arguing that gays should have the right to marriage. A conservative justice could write that everyone has the right to same-sex marriage.

The difference is that the LGBT approach would create a protected class of persons based on sexual orientation. This protected class could pass laws protecting other rights, like forcing pizza parlors to serve them even if it violates the business owner’s religious rights. If everyone has a right to same-sex marriage though, then no protected classes are created. Instead, same-sex couples could get married, but nothing more. Business owners would still be free to discriminate because the foundation for civil rights of LGBT would not exist.

If the Supreme Court made a unanimous ruling for same-sex marriage, the rights from that case would be as narrow as possible for all nine justices to sign off on it. Although same-sex marriage is guaranteed to happen, the Supreme Court could still shape the outcome so that the conservatives would still have a chance to win a debate.

Minnesota Friends Face Criminal Charges for Attempting to Join ISIS

Six Minnesota men were charged on April 20th for conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The men, ranging in age from 19-21, drove from Minneapolis to San Diego in hopes of reaching Mexico to fly to Syria.

ISISThe multiple arrests were a victory for the FBI after a 10-month long investigation of ISIS recruitment in Minneapolis.

In addition to the six men, another man was caught trying to join ISIS but agreed to work with authorities and stop all efforts in reaching Syria. He worked as an informant, receiving about $13,000 for helping the FBI catch the recruits. The man handed over secretly recorded conversations and meetings of the six other men to authorities.

The men appeared in court Thursday the 23rd, greeted by support from their families and community. But, anger from the community towards the FBI was potent at the courthouse. The community was furious that the informant handed over most of the evidence the FBI needed to arrest them. They believed without this information, the FBI would not have any evidence to charge the men.

An FBI agent testified that the evidence the informant provided proved the men persisted in trying to reach Syria to join ISIS even after they had been stopped from boarding planes en route to the country.

It is common knowledge ISIS is a threatening foreign terrorist group. Terrorist activity and engagement in terrorism by ISIS can easily be proved to the court. Because of these three factors, the six men are facing either a fine, imprisonment not over 15 years, or both for attempting to help a known foreign terrorist organization.

Receive Tax Credit for Your Plug-In Electric Vehicle

According to the Internal Revenue Code §30D, you can obtain a tax credit for having acquired a Qualified Plug-In Electric Drive Motor Vehicle. The credit applies to passenger vehicles and light trucks. If you acquired the vehicle after December 31, 2009, you will receive a credit of $2,500. You will also receive an additional $417 for a vehicle that gets propulsion energy from a battery with a minimum of five kilowatt hours of capacity. Moreover, you will receive another amount of $417 for every kilowatt hour of battery capacity that is greater than five kilowatt hours.

federal tax creditThe maximum amount of the credit that is permitted for a vehicle is $7,500. The credit starts to phase out when a minimum of 200,000 qualifying vehicles are sold in the United States. It begins in the second calendar quarter following the calendar quarter in which at least 200,000 vehicles were sold for use in the U.S. The phase-out applies to sales that occurred after December 31, 2009.

§30D was initially enacted as part of the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008. It was amended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for vehicles obtained after December 31, 2009. §30D was also amended by the American Taxpayer and Relief Act (ATRA) of 2013 regarding specific 2- or 3-wheeled vehicles obtained after December 31, 2011 and prior to January 1, 2014.

In order to take advantage of the credit, you are required to obtain the vehicle for the purpose of using or leasing it, and not for resale. Another requirement is that the taxpayer must be the first person to use the vehicle, and usage of the vehicle must take place mostly in the U.S. Furthermore, title to the vehicle must pass to the taxpayer in accordance with state law in order for the vehicle to be considered to be acquired by the taxpayer.

If you acquired your qualifying vehicle within the first two quarters of the phase-out period, then you are eligible for 50% of the credit, and if you obtained your vehicle within the third or fourth quarter of the phase-out period, then you are eligible for 25% of the credit. However, if you acquired the vehicle after the phase-out period, then you are ineligible for the credit.

New Mexico Passes Civil Forfeiture Law

The law often uses strange jargon that ordinary people don’t understand, but will significantly harm people if they did comprehend the words’ meaning. Civil forfeiture is an excellent example.

Civil Forfeiture LawCivil forfeiture is far more insidious than its individual words might suggest. Civil forfeiture is a process where law enforcement can seize property – including cash, cars, or even houses – without a conviction or even an arrest.

Police can bring civil forfeiture suits directly against the property itself, with interesting case names like United States of America v. $124,700 in U.S. Currency or United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins. That’s right; the property is on trial, not the property owners!

Most of the properties subject to civil forfeiture typically come from ordinary drivers. Suppose a man wants to move from New Mexico to California to start a business and has $20,000 in cash in the backseat. If the police pull this man over, they can confiscate the $20,000 if they suspect the cash will be used in a crime.

Civil forfeiture was originally created so that police could enforce drug laws without having to prove the drug kingpins were guilty. Like all legal doctrines, civil forfeiture has grown beyond its intended purpose. Today, civil forfeiture has become a pervasion of the Constitution, with property being seized until the innocent can prove they are not guilty.

The fact that police have been using the stolen money to buy alcohol and slush machines only underscores how corrupt civil forfeiture has become.

Reversing the Trend

A few states are taking measures to end abusive civil forfeiture. Two weeks ago, Governor Susana Martinez signed a bill that restricts civil forfeiture actions to convictions. In other words, the police can only seize property if the owner has been found guilty of a crime. North Carolina is the only other state that has passed legislation to curb civil forfeiture actions. In North Carolina, the police can only conduct civil forfeiture if in cooperation with the federal government.

New Mexico and North Carolina are moving in the right direction, but their laws still assume that allowing police to confiscate property is still a good idea. The best reason police would want to hold property from arrestees is that the property can be used as evidence against the defendant. If the owner has already been convicted though, then confiscating property after conviction defeats the purpose of holding property as evidence against the property owner.

The police would want to hold property either to profit off the things they confiscated or to prevent other criminals from using the property. Keeping gang members from using confiscated vehicles might be a reasonable goal for law enforcement, but we should be wary when police are allowed to profit from their jobs. When police talk about protecting and serving, we should ensure that the people they are serving are the general public, not themselves.

President Obama Calls for an End to Conversion Therapy

Conversion therapy is the caveman-like practice of “healing” LGBT people. Participants, mostly minors forced in by their parents, undergo extreme brainwash therapy in the hopes of turning them straight. Most conversion therapists believe being gay is a choice, or is a result of sexual trauma as a child. Conversion therapy can consist of meeting with a “therapist” once a week, to admittance into a 24 hour facility in which you eat, breathe, live, conversion practices.

obama calls for an end of conversion therapyThis barbaric type of therapy came to President Obama’s attention after 17 year old transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, killed herself. She left a suicide note indicating conversion therapists added a huge role in her suicide.

An online petition calling for a ban on conversion therapy received 120,000 in just three months. In response, President Obama decided it was time to end such discriminatory and threatening practices. Mr. Obama is going to support the efforts to ban the practice at state level, instead of calling for a federal law banning therapists from using conversion tactics. We can only hope a federal ban will be enacted at some point.

California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have already banned therapists from offering treatment to minors.  Legislation regarding conversion therapy has also been introduced in 18 states, including the Human Rights Campaign and a gay rights group that tracks this type of legislation.

With President Obama’s initiative, and overwhelming evidence of the link between conversion therapy and suicide among the LGBT community, this oppressive and ignorant practice might someday be put to a stop.