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The SCOTUS Thread
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E-boy



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the radio show regarding that judgment I was listening to on the way home thursday morning a gentleman called in to add to the discussion that this group has more on their agenda than getting americans to repent their sins.

According to this gentleman who is the president of the local chapter of the freedom riders, this church group actually generates revenue through litigation that comes up as a result of violations of their civil liberties on their protests.

I have been unable to determine if there is any truth to this accusation but this guy said they'd won money in several suits against municipalities and state governments for failing to provide adequate protection of their right to assemble etc...
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mouse



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yeah, i believe that's how they've been surviving - they sue municipalities who try to limit their activity, and collect on damages. a lot of municipalities will pay up even if they are just threatened with a lawsuit, just so they don't have to fight the court case. (you are talking about WBC, right, not AT&T?)
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 5:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mouse wrote:
yeah, i believe that's how they've been surviving - they sue municipalities who try to limit their activity, and collect on damages. a lot of municipalities will pay up even if they are just threatened with a lawsuit, just so they don't have to fight the court case. (you are talking about WBC, right, not AT&T?)

odd...I was under the impression you couldn't collect monetary settlements from government institutions. I was under the impression that this was the reason you can't sue a school district itself, you have to go after the individual person's responsible. But then again maybe that's one of those commonwealth things.

Then again, if people are willing to pay up just at the mere threat of litigations legitimacy of the charges becomes moot if it nothing ever actually gets filed to begin with. There's a lot of people, in government and the private sector, who didn't exactly finish 'top of their class' in law school, not to mention a lot of small local governments and state governments that are filled with morons:

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Canopus



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hegemonies have always applied nepotism. Functionally, it offers precautionary mechanisms against the anxiety of losing power. They realize the people (or pets) they are instating may not be qualified, but they value trust and solidarity far more than mere competence, not that I agree with the practice.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Supreme Court to Take Up Huge Sex Bias Claim Against Wal-Mart
http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/27/wal-mart-sex-bias-case-to-go-to-supreme-court/

Quote:
Christine Kwapnoski hasn't done too badly in nearly 25 years in the Wal-Mart family, making more than $60,000 a year in a job she enjoys most days.

But Kwapnoski says she faced obstacles at Wal-Mart-owned Sam's Club stores in both Missouri and California: Men making more than women and getting promoted faster.

She never heard a supervisor tell a man, as she says one told her, to "doll up" or "blow the cobwebs off" her make-up.

Once she got over the fear that she might be fired, she joined what has turned into the largest job discrimination lawsuit ever.

The 46-year-old single mother of two is one of the named plaintiffs in a suit that will be argued at the Supreme Court on Tuesday. At stake is whether the suit can go forward as a class action that could involve 500,000 to 1.6 million women, according to varying estimates, and potentially could cost the world's largest retailer billions of dollars.

But the case's potential importance issue goes well beyond the Wal-Mart dispute, as evidenced by more than two dozen briefs filed by business interests on Wal-Mart's side, and civil rights, consumer and union groups on the other.

The question is crucial to the viability of discrimination claims, which become powerful vehicles to force change when they are presented together, instead of individually. Class actions increase pressure on businesses to settle suits because of the cost of defending them and the potential for very large judgments.

Columbia University law professor John Coffee said that the high court could bring a virtual end to employment discrimination class actions filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, depending on how it decides the Wal-Mart case.

"Litigation brought by individuals under Title VII is just too costly," Coffee said. "It's either class action or nothing."

Illustrating the value of class actions, Brad Seligman, the California-based lawyer who conceived of and filed the suit 10 years ago, said the average salary for a woman at Wal-Mart was $13,000, about $1,100 more than the average for a man, when the case began. "That's hugely significant if you're making $13,000 a year, but not enough to hire a lawyer and bring a case."

The company has fought the suit every step of the way, Seligman said, because it is the "biggest litigation threat Wal-Mart has ever faced."

A trial judge and the federal appeals court in San Francisco, over a fierce dissent, said the suit could go forward.

But Wal-Mart wants the high court to stop the suit in its tracks. The company argues it includes too many women with too many different positions in its 3,400 stores across the country. Wal-Mart says its policies prohibit discrimination and that most management decisions are made at the store and regional levels, not at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters.

Theodore J. Boutrous, Wal-Mart's California-based lawyer, said there is no evidence that women are poorly treated at Wal-Mart. "The evidence is the contrary of that," Boutrous said.

The company is not conceding that any woman has faced discrimination, but says that if any allegations are proven, they are isolated. "People will make errors," said Gisel Ruiz, Wal-Mart's executive vice president for people, as the company calls its human resources unit. "People are people."

Ruiz paints a very different picture of the opportunities offered women at Wal-Mart. She joined the company straight from college in 1992. "In less than four years, I went from an assistant manager trainee to running my own store," she said. "I'm one of thousands of women who have had a positive experience at Wal-Mart."

Kwapnoski, who works at the Sam's Club in Concord, Calif., is one of two women who continue to work at Wal-Mart while playing a prominent role in the suit. The other is Betty Dukes, a greeter at the Walmart in Pittsburg, Calif.

"It's very hard for anyone to understand how difficult that is and what courage that is," Seligman said of Kwapnoski and Dukes. "They're Public Enemy No. 1 at Wal-Mart and they are known for their involvement in this lawsuit. Nevertheless, they get and up and go to work every day."

Kwapnoski didn't want to discuss any issues she faces at work as a result of the suit.

She said she has seen some changes at Wal-Mart since the suit was filed in 2001. The company now posts all its openings electronically. "It does give people a better idea of what's out there, but they still can be very easily passed over." she said. "But before you didn't even know the position was open."

The suit, citing what are now dated figures from 2001, contends that women are grossly underrepresented among managers, holding just 14 percent of store manager positions compared with more than 80 percent of lower-ranking supervisory jobs that are paid by the hour. Wal-Mart responds that women in its retail stores made up two-thirds of all employees and two-thirds of all managers in 2001.

Kwapnoski said she and a lot of women were promoted into management just after the suit was filed, although she has had only a couple of pay increases in the nine years since. She is the assistant manager in her store's groceries and produce sections.

Now, she said, promotions are back to the way they were before, favoring men over women.

She said she's hoping the long-running court fight will force Wal-Mart to recognize that, stories like Ruiz's aside, women are not valued as much as men are and that her bosses will begin to "make sure that good men and good women are being promoted, not just men."


A break down of the case thus far: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/political-economy/post/rundown-wal-mart-sex-discrimination-suit-goes-to-supreme-court/2011/03/25/AFrOw0nB_blog.html

I worked at Wal Mart for 2 years when I was younger, 97-98, and got four raises within that time. My sister worked there for 4 years, 96-99 and I also got 4 raises. Sure they were only $.25 or .50 per hour increases but one can only wonder how many more I would've gotten given 2 more years.
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: Westboro

Just some local reporting:


The South rises against Westboro wrote:

The Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church was a no-show Saturday at the funeral of Marine Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers in Brandon, Miss. The church recently won a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that they had the right to protest at funerals.
After Rogers was killed in Afghanistan, the church issued a press release announcing its intent to protest the fallen Marine's memorial service. But even though the church did not show up as they had promised, many others showed up in their stead.
William Carey student Zach Magee helped organize a counter protest via Facebook to combat the negative message Westboro was expected to deliver.
"As soon as we heard that Westboro was gonna be here, we didn't want that to happen," Magee said. "I'm a firm believer in human rights, and I believe it should be a natural given human right to be able to bury your loved ones without negativity brought towards that."
Brandon resident Michelle Milloway had never heard of Westboro prior to the events surrounding Staff Sgt. Roger's funeral, but she knew she had to be there to show support for the family.
"We came out to support his family, our country, and the soldiers that fight for us everyday," she said. "I don't know how people can have so much hate inside of them to do something as low as that," she said.
She was just one of the estimated thousands who showed up to overpower Westboro's message of hate with one of love.
Supporters of the fallen Marine and his family held signs that said things like, "God Loves Jason" — a stark contrast to Westboro's placards, which often carry messages like "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
For Marlee Merritt, 17, of Richland, the idea that Westboro would come so close to home was infuriating.
"It really just pisses me off that they would put the family through that," Merritt said. "They don't need that stuff right now—they're dealing with enough."
Several USM students showed up, including both sophomore Theater major Michael Dendy and sophomore Psychology major Emma Burleson. Dendy said that it would not be his first experience with Westboro.
"I came here because I've had a past with Westboro Baptist Church, with them protesting the Laramie Project," Dendy said, referring to a play based on the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepherd — whose funeral Westboro also protested.
"I just wanted to have a chance to make them realize who they're messing with when they come to Mississippi," Dendy said.
That sentiment was held by many in the crowd.
"This is the dirty South," Merritt said. "We don't play.
"I just hope that they realize that we're the state of Mississippi," said Brandon resident Heather Rodgers. "It's the Deep South. We are very close here. I definitely think they might get more than they bargained for."
Hours after Westboro failed to arrive, Magee offered that it may have been the tight-knit nature of families and communities in the Deep South that made Westboro reconsider.
As it became apparent that the church would not be coming, the hundreds of people gathered at the cemetery where Staff Sgt. Rogers was to be buried began to cheer.
"In a round about and direct sort of way, they really just boosted the number of people here and support that the family got," said USM student Jon Negri. "Westboro Baptist Church was pretty positive today."
Magee said he wasn't surprised; the massive crowd of patriots who had shown up to silence Westboro, he said, would have easily drowned out their small numbers.
"I really think that was kind of the sole purpose," Magee said, "to keep them away."
"Mission accomplished," he added, nodding.


And completely unsubstantiated but I think this is really what happened:

Westboro Baptist Church Goes To Mississippi – And Loses wrote:

On Saturday USMC Staff Sgt. Jason Rogers, who was killed in action in Afghanistan April 7, was buried in Brandon, Mississippi.
That, by itself, is a sadly unremarkable – though certainly noteworthy and solemn – occasion for us to mark.
And in fact when Sgt. Rogers’ body returned to Brandon it was greeted by hundreds, or perhaps even thousands, of well-wishers who gathered at the roadside to honor the fallen American hero. The dashboard camera from Mississippi state trooper Elmo Townsend’s cruiser gives an indication of the scene last Thursday.

[video]

What is most notable about Sgt. Rogers’ funeral in Brandon, however, is what didn’t happen.
You see, the troglodytes from Westboro Baptist Church had threatened to spew their poison at Sgt. Rogers’ funeral.
But the Westboro mob wasn’t on the scene, and Sgt. Rogers was laid to rest without incident – thank God.
Why weren’t there protestors?
Planning ahead by the locals, as it turns out.
From an Ole Miss sports [link on the site does not go to this post - edit it is there but it is buried. Could still just be a rumor] message board, a tidbit of information…
Quote:

A couple of days before, one of them (Westboro protestors) ran his mouth at a Brandon gas station and got his arse waxed. Police were called and the beaten man could not give much of a description of who beat him. When they canvassed the station and spoke to the large crowd that had gathered around, no one seemed to remember anything about what had happened.
Rankin County handled this thing perfectly. There were many things that were put into place that most will never know about and at great expense to the county.
Most of the morons never made it out of their hotel parking lot. It seems that certain Rankin county pickup trucks were parked directly behind any car that had Kansas plates in the hotel parking lot and the drivers mysteriously disappeared until after the funeral was over. Police were called but their wrecker service was running behind and it was going to be a few hours before they could tow the trucks so the Kansas plated cars could get out.
A few made it to the funeral but were ushered away to be questioned about a crime they might have possibly been involved in. Turns out, after a few hours of questioning, that they were not involved and they were allowed to go on about their business.

Fred Phelps, the disbarred lawyer and Democrat activist who leads the Westboro congregation, will undoubtedly pursue some form of legal action for the way his people were thwarted in Brandon. Let him try. There isn’t a jury in Mississippi which will see things his way.
This is a template for how to handle the Westboro people. If lawsuits don’t work, other means will. Whatever it takes to keep them from harassing bereaved military families on the day their fallen loved ones are laid to rest.


Is it bad that I support this kind of response (car blocking, etc)? I am not, by and large, okay with the alleged beating though.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think, unofficially, the response of individuals like university students and the Patriot Guard Riders is commendable. I love reading stories of strangers who come together to shelter families. I prefer my state and city officials to be impartial... at least while they're on the job. I enjoyed this story (true or not), but forty years ago it could have been blocking cars headed to an interracial marriage, you know?
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know! It is just so frustrating that we, the good guys, shouldn't resort to the very effective methods of the bad guys (car blocking, beatings, etc). I'm just really not certain that the good guys can "win" without these bad guy tactics.

And really, any effective protesting technique will be used for both good causes and bad causes. It is just that the good causes don't always use the super effective techniques (YOU ARE A NAZI!!! etc etc) and so must make up for it in other ways, typically numbers. I wonder if a study could be done comparing impact of the various protesting techniques - Westboro certainly has had a lot of impact for a very tiny group of people. Yet when a whole town turns out to shut them up, only the local news picks it up. Now in this case, only local news ran the story of the planned protest but a comparison of these things would interest me very much.

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Dogen



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

WBC, luckily, seems to have the opposite of their intended effect, I think. At least, you never hear anyone saying, "I think those guys have a point. God does kill soldiers because we protect Sodomites." Everyone counter protests just because they're a bunch of assholes who want to harrass fractured families, regardless of how they feel about the war or international policy or whatever... it's like the WBC is the great uniter. Against them.

The "good guy path" is hard, though. It requires a lot more of people, I think, than the bad guy path. You have to rely on people to be fair and at least mildly rational. Ensuring freedom gives them the option to be good or bad to one another. I lose faith a lot, especially with our political landscape that seems to run on stoking fear of one another. I'm not sure being a good person will get you far in some circles.
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Celaeno



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think their intended effect is to generate a firestorm of media coverage. They've done quite a nice job there. Unfortunately.

Practically everyone in the country (and quite a lot out of it) know who they are. Again, unfortunately.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess, if they aren't trying to do anything other than get their message out. I mean, okay, everyone knows who they are... and hates them. I understand they make some money from suing people who infringe their rights, but that can't get them very far - they're not wealthy (according to their filings in Snyder v Phelps). They're not drawing congregants (are they? anyone?).
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does ensuring freedom mean we can't pass a law that say ALL MUST BE RATIONAL IN ARGUMENTS AND USE EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT POSITIONS.

Cause I think that should be in stone somewhere.

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mouse



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i don't think they've increased their congregation any, unless they've had more kids.

i do like the town turning out in counter-protest. for one thing, it lets the family know how many people feel for them.

and in a way, it's too bad wbc didn't make it - that would have been a lovely picture, the handful of haters against all the people who turned out to oppose them. maybe it would remind people that even though people like that may make a lot of noise, there aren't that many of them.
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Willem



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Fred Phelps, the disbarred lawyer and Democrat activist

wait what?
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Lasairfiona



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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I left the article's response to that particular line out. Here is what I cut from the end of the article:

Quote:
UPDATE: Some of the feedback we’ve received from this piece came along the lines that it’s inappropriate to refer to Fred Phelps as a “Democrat activist.”
We stand by that characterization. If anything, it’s an understatement.
Fred Phelps ran for major office in Kansas as a Democrat no less than four times. He ran for governor on the Democrat ballot in 1990, 1994 and 1998 and for senator in 1992. Phelps received 11,000 votes, or seven percent, in 1990, he received 5,000 votes, or three percent, in 1994 and he picked up 15,000 votes, or 15 percent, in 1998. And in the senatorial contest in 1992 he garnered 49,000 votes, or 30 percent. Phelps furthermore ran as a Democrat candidate for mayor of Topeka in 1993 and 1997.
Phelps also has been closely associated with Al Gore on several occasions throughout Gore’s career – Phelps’ son Fred, Jr. was a Gore delegate at the 1988 Democrat convention and the Phelpses hosted a Gore fundraiser in Topeka that year. Phelps claims that Westboro members “ran” Gore’s 1988 campaign in Kansas.
Phelps may not fit within the typical definition of “Democrat activist” some of our readers expect – but a six-time Democrat candidate is an activist Democrat. That is quite clear, as unknown to the public as it might be.

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