Chad’s Morning Brief: Rand Paul & Ted Cruz to Filibuster, Gay Marriage at the Supreme Court, & More
Here is your Morning Brief for the morning of March 26, 2013. Give Chad your feedback below and tune in to The Chad Hasty Show for these and many more topics from 8:30 to 11am.
1. Another Filibuster? (link)
Could we see another filibuster in the U.S. Senate? It’s possible and this time it could be led by Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee.
Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation, according to a letter they plan to hand-deliver to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday.
“We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three conservatives wrote in a copy of the signed letter obtained by POLITICO.
Reid plans to bring up a gun-control measure that focuses on broadening background checks and cracking down on interstate gun-trafficking after the current Senate recess.
Conservatives are concerned that once that bill reaches the floor, amendments could stiffen restrictions on gun control.
Moreover, they understand that Reid intends to allow liberal amendments that would limit clip capacity and ban certain assault weapons to be offered — even though they would be defeated — to give Democrats a chance to vote on them. For moderate Democrats in competitive states, that amounts to an opportunity to vote no and show allegiance to gun rights.
Though they don’t use the word “filibuster” in the letter, the conservatives are leaving no doubt that they would filibuster on an initial procedural question — the motion to proceed.
Lee staged a test vote on the issue during consideration of the Senate budget last week. He tried to amend a point of order against gun control legislation to the budget but fell short. It needed a three-fifths supermajority and failed 49-50. But the final tally emboldened Lee, Paul and Cruz because they were so close to a majority and a filibuster takes just 41 votes to sustain.
This could get very interesting if the 3 Senators decide to go with a filibuster. Senator Cruz has been criticized for not getting along with older Senators like John McCain and Lindsey Graham. If Cruz continues to form this coalition with Rand Paul, Mike Lee, and Marco Rubio then I think that is perfect.
2. Gay Marriage (link)
Today the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Prop 8. Prop 8 is California’s voter approved ban on gay marriage. That isn’t the only case on gay marriage that the Supreme Court will hear this week. Tomorrow, the court will hear arguments over the Defense of Marriage Act. The two cases could reshape how the country looks at marriage.
In oral arguments on Tuesday morning the 9 justices will consider whether California’s voter approved ban on gay marriage, Proposition 8, unfairly discriminates against gay people. On Wednesday, they’ll consider whether the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act barring the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriages, even in states that allow them, constitutes federal overreach.
Both cases could change the everyday lives of gay people and transform the larger, decades old gay rights movement, which has pursued both a court-based and political strategy to gain more legal protections for gay people. But the California Prop 8 case in particular, called Perry v. Hollingsworth, is considered by both pro and anti-gay marriage camps to be the most important, and potentially sweeping, of the two.
In Perry, there’s a possibility that the court could declare that gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marriage just as heterosexual couples do. Such a decision would send a message from the court that both same sex and heterosexual relationships must be treated equally in the eyes of the law.
“There aren’t many Supreme Court decisions that have the potential to be as transformative,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California Irvine School of Law.
If the court finds a right to marriage for gay people, Chermerinsky said, “it will matter enormously in the lives of millions of gays and lesbians in terms of their ability to marry and it also would be a very profound statement of the court that gays and lesbians are subject to equal protection under the law.”
John Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University and the chairman for the anti-gay marriage group the National Organization for Marriage, also sees the potential for big, but negative, changes should the court decide to invalidate Prop 8. He says a Supreme Court decision in favor of gay marriage will “forever sever the ties between marriage and children” and discourage heterosexual couples from marrying.
“It’s hard to imagine a more compelling interest than the survival of the species,” Eastman said of why the government should be able to limit marriage to opposite sex couples. “We would survive in a way, but without the institution of marriage…you commodify children when you take away the intimate family structure.”
Just 40 years ago, the Supreme Court tersely refused to hear a case brought by a gay couple who wanted to get married in Minnesota, writing that that their claim raised no significant legal issue. At the time, legal opinions often treated homosexuality as criminal, sexually deviant behavior rather than involuntary sexual orientation.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, the current court’s conservative-leaning swing vote, departed from that tone when he wrote the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas opinion striking down state sodomy laws. Gay people have a right to privacy in their own homes to practice whatever consensual sexual behavior they wish, Kennedy wrote, in a decision that substantially expanded gay rights in the U.S.
Eventually, I believe you will see gay marriage in the United States but that doesn’t mean it will be because the Supreme Court ordered it so. I can absolutely see the Supreme Court throwing out DOMA and instead leaving the decision up to the states & the people.
3. Scalpers (link)
Having solved all other pressing issues in Texas, lawmakers are now aiming to crack down on scalping.
When a Texan buys a concert ticket, is it a license to have a great time or does it become personal property that can be sold or traded?
Texas lawmakers plan to take up the question that has triggered legislative fights in other states and could determine how tickets for concerts, sports and other major events are sold, resold or even taken away. An attempt to wrangle tickets to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo last month put a spotlight on the problem.
The rodeo discovered that season ticket holders, sponsors and others who had tickets to a George Strait concert were reselling their tickets, some for as much as $11,000. Rodeo staffers decided that reselling the tickets for a higher value violated the terms of the ticket and canceled 5,000 to resell the tickets to someone else.
That set off a backlash from the ticket holders who said the tickets belonged to them. They said they should be allowed to do anything they want with their property, including selling them at whatever price the market would bear. But the fine print on those tickets made the rodeo’s revocation and reissue of the tickets perfectly permissible.
While some Texans found the revocation of their tickets outrageous, Tennesseans had a different experience. Garth Brooks put on a flood relief concert, but many of the tickets intended for victims and volunteers ended up with scalpers, who sold them for three times the face price.
The Tennessee Legislature is considering a bill that would allow more restrictions to make sure that only the person who buys a ticket uses it.
Event promoters say the goal is to stop scalpers from buying big blocks of tickets and then reselling them at inflated prices that most people can’t afford.
Eventually, some promoters would like them to work like airline tickets, where the purchaser’s ID card serves as an electronic ticket and is nontransferrable. In January, Ticketmaster required 400 people who bought tickets for a Kid Rock concert in Michigan to present an ID or the credit card used to buy the ticket to get in, leading to a warning from a local consumer group.
Such rules present a challenge for corporations that buy tickets in bulk for employees or to offer to customers or friendly politicians. Tour groups also oppose tighter restrictions because they often buy tickets in bulk to include in package deals.
But Texas lawmakers pride themselves on property rights and free markets and are considering a bill that would go in the opposite direction.
Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, wrote HB3041, which would ban the ticket seller from stopping the resale or transfer of the ticket, limiting the price the ticket holder can charge for it or requiring an ID to use the ticket.
Next week Oliveira is expected to bring his bill up before the House Business and Industry Committee, which he leads. Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Galveston, has a similar bill in the Senate. The measure is supported by a group called Fan Freedom, an advocacy group that includes ticket resellers, fans and consumer advocacy groups. The group believes that major ticket agencies have too much power over the market.
Both sides of the argument promise that their solution will guarantee greater access to tickets, but for completely different reasons.
Ticket sellers say that with greater power, they can shut down scalpers who buy up blocks of tickets and deny normal fans the chance to buy at the regular price. They also complain that the artist and venue don’t get to share in the profit from the higher ticket prices.
Yet supporters of ticket holder rights say ticket sellers are the problem. Tickets for the biggest events can sell out within minutes of going on sale, not because the demand is so high, but because many of the tickets are reserved for fan clubs, sponsors or people enrolled in elite credit card programs. It is not unusual for more than half of tickets to be reserved before they go on public sale.
What are your thoughts on this issue?
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