Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘President Obama’

2nd July 2013

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement regarding the implementation of policies regarding adjudication of immigration petitions for same-sex bi-national married couples. To quote directly from the official website of DHS:

“After last week’s decision by the Supreme Court holding that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional, President Obama directed federal departments to ensure the decision and its implication for federal benefits for same-sex legally married couples are implemented swiftly and smoothly.  To that end, effective immediately, I have directed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to review immigration visa petitions filed on behalf of a same-sex spouse in the same manner as those filed on behalf of an opposite-sex spouse.”

This statement is a significant moment in the long fight for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples. In order to provide further information regarding these developments the DHS has posted some frequently asked questions on the same page as the aforementioned quotation. These FAQ’s are quoted below:

Q1:  I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national.  Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa?

A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be automatically denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly, the United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident same sex spouse of a foreign national can now submit an I-130 petition for Lawful Permanent Residence (also known as “Green Card” status) for their husband or wife. In fact, it would appear that a same-sex couple in Florida was recently granted immigration benefits for the same-sex spouse. This would especially be true in a case where the couple not only was married in State recognizing same-sex marriage, but also resides in that same State or another of the 13 States which recognize such unions. An issue which is, as of yet, not so clearly delineated hinges upon a situation in which a same-sex married couple has married in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage (and performs them), but resides in a State which does not recognize such unions. To shed further light upon this issue it is necessary to quote again from the same DHS webpage, quoted above, regarding this issue:

Q2:  My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not.  Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse?

A2: Yes, you can file the petition.  In evaluating the petition, as a general matter, USCIS looks to the law of the place where the marriage took place when determining whether it is valid for immigration law purposes. That general rule is subject to some limited exceptions under which federal immigration agencies historically have considered the law of the state of residence in addition to the law of the state of celebration of the marriage. Whether those exceptions apply may depend on individual, fact-specific circumstances. If necessary, we may provide further guidance on this question going forward.

For those wishing to visit the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to learn more please click HERE.

For those unfamiliar with the recent Supreme Court decision striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) it should be pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision did not impact section 2 of DOMA which reads as follows:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Therefore, notwithstanding the fact that there are some who argue that section 2 of DOMA violates the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution, no Court ruling nor Act of Congress has repealed section 2 of DOMA and, in the words of the DHS website itself, in those “fact-specific” situations in which Section 2 of DOMA may be relevant the provisions of Section 2 could prove detrimental to a same-sex bi-national couple. That being said, according to the DHS website, a petition could still be filed and it would be adjudicated accordingly.

One final point to ponder on this issue is the K-1 visa. Under current United States Immigration law it is possible for an American Citizen to apply for a Fiance Visa, also known as the K-1 visa, for a foreign fiance residing abroad, so long as the couple intends to marry in the United States within 90 days of the foreign fiance’s arrival (other regulations apply to K-1 visa holders, but for the purposes of this analysis they are not necessarily relevant). If a same-sex couple, who are not yet legally married, wishes to obtain a K-1 visa based upon their intention to wed in the United States, then it could be inferred from the DHS Secretary’s statement that they might be adjudicated in the same manner as the same petition for a different-sex couple. However, this should not be viewed as a foregone conclusion because the statements quoted above only pertain specifically to couples who are already married. Neither the Court, nor the DHS, have specifically dealt with the question of those same-sex couples who wish to seek a K1 visa based upon an intention to marry in the USA. It could be inferred from the Court’s opinion in United States v. Windsor that those same-sex couples with the intention to marry in a jurisdiction where same-sex unions are recognized should be granted the same treatment as those different-sex couples in similar circumstances; but the issue has yet to be clearly adjudicated and therefore no completely clear answer arises.

Meanwhile, one significant question remains: based upon the above information how will USCIS adjudicate K-1 visa applications for same-sex couples who wish to travel to the United States to marry in a State which recognizes same-sex marriage, but reside in a State which does not? Hopefully the answer to this question will come soon. Until then it would appear that although DHS clearly intends to adjudicate same-sex married couples’ petitions for immigration benefits in the same way as different-sex couples; it remains to be seen how same sex fiances will be treated in the eyes of U.S. Immigration law.

For information on immigrant visas please see: CR-1 Visa or  IR-1 Visa.

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19th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may be poised to begin placing holds on some deportations. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of The Washington Times, WashingtonTimes.com:

The Homeland Security Department said Thursday it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria such as attending school, having family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care. The move, announced in letters to Congress, won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had chided President Obama for months for the pace of deportations and had argued he had authority to exempt broad swaths of illegal immigrants from deportation…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

Although this blogger has been reluctant to support blanket amnesty per se, especially for those who have entered the United States illegally; there are often unique and extenuating circumstances which require adjudication in order to equitably administer American immigration law and regulation pursuant to legislative and executive plenary power. It remains to be seen how this policy will be practically implemented.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the federal delegation from the sovereign State of New York may be more supportive of DOMA repeal since a Congressional Representative from that State was recently noted for comments on this issue. In an effort to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website Towleroad.com:

After waiting for New York State to legalize gay marriage, Democratic Rep. Bill Owens now says he supports the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits federal recognition of same-sex marriage. “I indicated I would not become a co-sponsor until New York took action,” said Owens, who represents the Empire State’s 23rd Congressional district. “Once they did that, I felt I had an obligation to the citizens in the state to make sure they weren’t adversely impeded by federal law.” Owens continued, “I think that people should have the freedom to make those kinds of decisions…”

The administration of this web log asks readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

For those who are unaware of the evolving nature of this issue it should be noted that the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) preclude federal recognition of same sex marriage. This federal non-recognition is enforced even where one of the sovereign American States has legalized and/or solemnized the underlying same sex marriage. There are some who would argue that this activity violates the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution while others could argue that such discrimination violates the Equal Protection Clause. In any case, the result in an immigration context is that same sex bi-national couples (even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a US State) cannot receive the same visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa, IR-1 visa, or K-1 visa)  as their different-sex counterparts. Some federal legislators, such as New York delegation member Representative Jerrold Nadler, have attempted to remedy this problem through introduction of bills such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA: to address the specific issue of discrimination in an immigration context) and the Respect For Marriage Act (RFMA: a proposal which would accord federal “certainty” to State licensed same sex marriages). However, it remains to be seen whether such legislation will ultimately see passage.

In news related to the aforementioned issues it also came to this blogger’s attention that further “mainstream media” attention is being focused upon the case of the same sex bi-national couple who were married in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, but face the prospect of separation due to the fact that the American government may remove the foreign spouse since their marriage is not recognized pursuant to the provisions of DOMA. In an effort to provide further detail this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the official website of The Washington Post, WashingtonPost.com:

Mr. Makk’s case illustrates the profound injustices meted out by DOMA, which was passed in 1996. The Obama administration this year denounced the Clinton-era law as unconstitutional because it deprives same-sex couples equal protection of the law. In April, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. put on hold the deportation of a British man who has lived in the United States since 1996 but who never obtained a green card or citizenship. The man, Paul Wilson Dorman, has been in a committed same-sex relationship for 15 years and entered into a civil union with his partner, a U.S. citizen, in 2009. Mr. Holder asked an immigration court to determine whether Mr. Dorman should be considered a “spouse” under New Jersey law and thus entitled to stay in the country. Mr. Makk’s deportation should also be put on hold, as should those involving anyone in legally recognized same-sex relationships whose only infraction involves immigration status…

The administration encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail as this situation is poignant indeed.

Although this blogger can at times get caught up in the rather academic details of the debate on federal recognition of same sex marriage readers should be aware that this issue has a truly human context since couples like the one noted above could have their personal lives substantially disrupted as a result of federal policy with respect to same sex couples. There is some speculation that this matter may ultimately see resolution in the US Courts, but until such time as a final decision is made on the matter same sex couples and the Greater LGBT community in America are left to hope that their federal legislature will pass legislation akin to the RFMA or the UAFA. Perhaps in the meantime officers in the American immigration system can utilize their statutory authority and plenary powers to provide equitable relief to those who find themselves facing the prospect of being separated from their loved ones due to questionably Constitutional law.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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14th August 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Consulate in Chennai, India has issued an apology statement pertaining to remarks made by a Consular Officer in that jurisdiction. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of Yahoo News at Yahoo.com:

The United States has apologised for controversial remarks made by a US diplomat who spoke of “dark and dirty” Indians, calling the comments “inappropriate”. US Vice-Consul Maureen Chao told Indian students on Friday that her “skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians” after a long train journey, according to Indian media — referring to people from the southern state of Tamil Nadu. During her speech in the Tamil Nadu capital, Chennai, Chao was quoted as saying: “I was on a 24-hour train trip from Delhi to (the eastern Indian state of) Orissa. “But, after 72 hours, the train still did not reach the destination… and my skin became dirty and dark like the Tamilians.” Following her speech, the US Consulate in Chennai on Saturday issued a “statement of apology”. “During the speech Ms. Chao made an inappropriate comment. Ms. Chao deeply regrets if her unfortunate remarks offended anyone, as that was certainly not her intent,” the US Consulate said on its website…”As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently noted, the US-India partnership is based on our shared values of democracy, liberty, and respect for religious and cultural diversity,” the US consulate added…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

Although the comments noted above are unfortunate, inappropriate, and downright impolite it should be noted that mistakes do happen. Notwithstanding the fact that the individual in question is a civil servant of the United States government she is also human and therefore not immune from making mistakes. It is admirable that the US Consulate noted above took the opportunity to quickly and maturely respond to the comments and issue an apology. Hopefully the whole situation will stand as an example to future American State Department personnel.

In news related to the continuing struggle for LGBT equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that there has been further analysis of the factual situation surrounding the story of a same sex married couple who may be compelled to separate due to enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide further information it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of CNN, CNN.com:

Anthony Makk was trying to become a permanent U.S. resident – like many heterosexual couples do – so he could stay with his loved one who he married seven years ago in Massachusetts. Makk, who has been with Bradford Wells for 19 years, is also doing it because he is a caregiver for his husband who has AIDS.

Frequent readers of this web log may recall that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has allowed for the legalization/solemnization of same sex marriage through intra-State licensure protocols. Notwithstanding the fact that this sovereign American State and other jurisdictions such as the State of New York have legalized such unions they are neither recognized nor granted routine Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause. There are currently cases pending in the US Courts which address these issues, but a final resolution has yet to come to fruition. To continue quoting from the aforementioned article on CNN.com:

..But the federal government denied his final appeal two weeks ago on the basis of the Defense of Marriage Act which doesn’t recognize their same-sex marriage. “The claimed relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is not a petitionable relationship,” the government’s ruling said. “For a relationship to qualify as a marriage for purposes of federal law, one partner must be a man and the other a woman.” The U.S. Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services echoed the sentiment, saying as long as DOMA was in place, they will continue to operate under that standard…The couple is calling for the U.S. government to step in and allow Makk to stay and care for Wells. The couple said they feel the federal government is doing everything to keep them from being able to do what any other heterosexual couple already can do. “I feel that my government is trying to destroy my marriage,” Wells said. “And my government is trying to impose a great deal of harm on my life for no reason whatsoever. I feel like I’m being bullied by my government.” But the fight to stay together has strengthened the couple’s bond, Makk said. “We made a big commitment to each other and the harder they make it, the stronger our relationship is.” What’s more frustrating for Wells, who says that the couple never intended for this to become a public debacle, is that they make sure to do everything that all married couples are required to do – like pay joint taxes, but get none of the benefits. “We have all the responsibilities, do the penalty parts of marriage, but then when it gets to the same benefits, we’re told no, you don’t qualify,” Wells said. “The government has decided they don’t like who I marry. For the federal government to say this isn’t a marriage – it’s degrading.” Still, the couple holds out hope. Hope that President Obama could step in to the battle that’s already raging in Congress over a repeal of DOMA, which he said he would support…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

The first question this blogger would pose under the circumstances is: Could the Attorney-General of the United States not issue a hold on this deportation in much the same way that a hold was placed on the removal of the New Jersey same sex civil union partner of an American Citizen? Notwithstanding the fact that the provisions of DOMA preclude the accordance of American visa benefits such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, or the IR-1 visa to same sex couples the American Attorney-General has rescinded a deportation apparently to scrutinize the Constitutional issues at play where a State has licensed a marital union. Under the circumstances in this case it seems only prudent to infer that there may be even more significant Constitutional issues because the underlying union is a same sex marriage and not a civil union. As noted previously on this blog, it is this blogger’s opinion that once a State sovereign has exercised their prerogatives with respect to the licensure of marriage, then the imprimatur of that State’s recognition of the underlying marriage should be accorded both inter-State Full Faith and Credit and federal recognition. Under the current situation with respect to DOMA, the States’ Rights are being marginalized and the American Citizenry’s individual liberties are being infringed.

Meanwhile, American legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler have introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) to directly address the current discrimination being imposed upon same sex bi-national couples. Furthermore, the provisions of the Respect for Marriage Act would seem to deal with the Full Faith and Credit issue by according same sex marriages performed in those States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions with federal “certainty“. How this issue will ultimately be resolved in the American Congress or Courts remains to be seen.

 

–Benjamin Walter Hart

 

For related information please see: Consular Processing.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States of America may be changing his position on the issue of same sex marriage in the context of a repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from an article written by Helene Cooper and posted on the official website of the The New York Times, NYTimes.com:

WASHINGTON — President Obama will endorse a bill to repeal the law that limits the legal definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, the White House said Tuesday, taking another step in support of gay rights. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama was taking the additional step away from the Defense of Marriage Act — which the administration said earlier this year it would no longer defend in court — in order to “uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.” If the measure passes, it would make same-sex couples eligible for certain federal benefits that have previously been available only to heterosexual married couples…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

This news comes virtually contemporaneously with the announcement that the United States Senate’s Judiciary Committee is set to hold hearings on the issue of DOMA and the possible promulgation of legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act. Such legislation would provide “certainty” to those same sex couples who have married in one of the States which allows same sex unions. Currently, same sex bi-national couples are barred from receiving American immigration benefits such as the CR-1 visa, K-1 visa, or IR-1 visa as section 3 of DOMA precludes awarding such benefits even if a same sex marriage has been legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States.

In related news, it would appear as though advocacy groups calling for the repeal of DOMA are stressing the immediacy of the upcoming hearings and how a show of support could have a positive impact upon the legislative process. In order to shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Instinct website, InstinctMagazine.com:

With the Senate set to begin the DOMA hearing tomorrow, the Courage Campaign is asking the community to help get the urgency across by participating in a new viral campaign. But no signatures here! Find out how to get involved after the jump. Two years ago, Courage Campaign launched “Fidelity,” a multimedia video focused on Prop. 8, urging the courts to not forcibly divorce same-sex families. With the first-ever repeal hearing for the Defense Of Marriage Act about to begin tomorrow in D.C., community leaders are calling on us all to get involved with “Fidelity II…”

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this interesting posting.

It remains to be seen how these issues will play out, but it should be noted that there are other considerations inherent to this issue apart from Civil Rights and Equal Protection principles. For example, there are certain States’ Rights components to an analysis of American jurisprudence regarding the legality of the federal government’s refusal to recognize same sex marriages legalized and/or solemnized in the sovereign States since notions of Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution come into play. Meanwhile, there are some who could argue that notions of natural rights and natural law should not be overlooked in any analysis of possible DOMA repeal. As this situation continues to evolve it should prove interesting to see how this issue is ultimately resolved.

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16th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Southeast Asian nation of Laos has seen something of a change in government. In order to provide further insight on this topic it may be prudent to quote directly from the website TMCNet.com:

VIENTIANE, Jun 16, 2011 (The Nation – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) — Lao People’s Revolutionary Party chief Choummaly Sayasone has retained his position as the country’s president in a new ballot by the National Assembly while Thongsing Thammavong was re-elected as premier. President Choummaly, who was selected as party chief for the second term at the congress in March, told lawmakers he would employ all his ability, potential and skill to lead the country forward to stability, strength, happiness, unity, reconciliation, democracy and civilisation… [sic]

The administration of this blog asks that readers click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further and gain context.

As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Laos has a unique role in the political and economic interplay which seems to be constantly occurring in the context of both Southeast as well as Greater Asia. In a recent posting on this blog it was noted that the government of China is planning to build a high speed rail system in order link Thailand, Laos, and China together so as to facilitate travel and trade. It is hoped that the recent change in the Lao government will result in benefits for the people of Laos.

Meanwhile, in government news pertaining to the United States of America it recently came to this blogger’ s attention that the President of the United States may be on the receiving end of a lawsuit involving America’s relatively recent presence in Libya. To provide further elucidation it may be best to quote directly from the official website of Politico, Politico.com:

A bipartisan group of House members announced on Wednesday that it is filing a lawsuit charging that President Obama made an illegal end-run around Congress when he approved U.S military action against Libya. “With regard to the war in Libya, we believe that the law was violated. We have asked the courts to move to protect the American people from the results of these illegal policies,” said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), who led the 10-member anti-war coalition with Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.)…The Kucinich-Jones group also includes Democrats John Conyers of Michigan and Michael Capuano of Massachusetts and Republicans Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Duncan of Tennessee, Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, Ron Paul of Texas, Tim Johnson of Illinois and Dan Burton of Indiana.

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this story.

Those who read this web log with any frequency may have noted the fact that Representative Dennis Kucinich has recently been noted for his opposition to the so-called “Patriot Act” extension. As can be surmised, any lawsuit involving both federal legislators and the President is likely to be highly complex. Therefore, those interested in staying abreast of such issues are well advised to conduct thorough research in order to be fully informed about this developing story.

For related information please see: legal or US Company Registration.

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1st June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the administration of President Barack H. Obama is poised to take a more commonsensical approach to issues pertaining to United States Immigration. In order to shed further light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from an article entitled New Common-Sense Immigration Reforms to Strengthen Our Economy written by Aneesh Chopra & Alejandro Mayorkas and posted on the White House blog at WhiteHouse.gov:

President Obama recently reaffirmed the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system, so that America can compete and win in the 21st century.  Immigrants make extraordinary contributions to our economic well-being, as demonstrated in study after study. For evidence, you can turn to recent analyses from the Treasury Department, the bipartisan Partnership for a New American Economy, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Or simply visit Silicon Valley.  Aneesh participated in a roundtable yesterday hosted by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group where nearly half of the executives in the room were immigrants. They were unanimous in their call for action in the high skilled area — a top priority for the group, along with a new service campaign to connect the  best and brightest in the Valley with  kids in need.  But they were also frustrated with our inability as a country to tackle these issues as it has been several years since they began such conversations.

Aneesh did review the White House’s Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System, reinforcing what they already knew — that our economic competitiveness would be strengthened by a legal immigration system that reflects our values and meets our diverse needs…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this insightful piece.

This blogger is personally anxious to see a new common sense strategy employed in the administration of America’s immigration system. In a previous posting on this blog it was noted that the Obama administration in conjunction with Senator Amy Klobucher have taken steps to move forward on legislation designed to reform certain aspects of the American visa system. This initiative appears to be undertaken in an effort to generate further revenue for America in the form of tourist dollars. Furthermore, there are some who would argue that a reform of the immigration system would result in an increase in foreign direct investment in the USA as foreign nationals travel to America on visas such as the E-2 visa or the EB-5 visa in order to engage in trade or start a business.

Credit where credit is due: the administration appears serious about making positive changes to the US visa process and for this reason their efforts to that end should be admired. However, not everyone is enthusiastic about every aspect of the Obama administration’s policies and procedures as was recently discovered by this blogger while surfing the internet for information regarding the recent Patriot Act Extension. It would appear as though the issue of the Patriot Act’s extension is not the salient point for some as the President’s method of “signing” the recent legislation has been called into question. To quote directly from an article written by Benjy Sarlin posted on the website TalkingPointsMemo.com:

President Obama’s use of a mechanical “autopen” to sign the new PATRIOT Act extension from abroad has at least one Republican lawmaker worried about a “dangerous precedent.” According to Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA), using a machine to sign legislation could one day bring about a dystopia in which robotic writing utensils are used to enact all manner of phony legislation.

“I thought it was a joke at first, but the President did, in fact, authorize an autopen to sign the Patriot Act extension into law,” Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) said in a statement. “Consider the dangerous precedent this sets. Any number of circumstances could arise in the future where the public could question whether or not the president authorized the use of an autopen. For example, if the president is hospitalized and not fully alert, can a group of aggressive Cabinet members interpret a wink or a squeeze of the hand as approval of an autopen signing? I am very concerned about what this means for future presidential orders, whether they be signing bills into law, military orders, or executive orders.”

The administration of this web log recommends that readers click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this interesting posting in its entirety.

Representative Tom Graves is not the only one with concerns regarding this method of enacting legislation via “autopen” as those who subscribe to a so-called “formalist” or plain language interpretation of the United States Constitution (which this blogger has been known to agree with on certain issues) seem to have taken some offense to the notion of being able to sign legislation, especially legislation as important as the Patriot Act extension, into law through usage of an “autopen” especially in light of a plain language interpretation of the U.S. Constitution itself. To further elucidate this point it may be best to quote directly from a very astute comment on the CBSnews.com website attributed to Bojax39 on May 31, 2011:

Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel: “…we conclude that the President need not personally perform the physical act of affixing his signature to a bill he approves and decides to sign in order for the bill to become law. Rather, the President may sign a bill within the meaning of Article I, Section 7 by directing a subordinate to affix the President’s signature to such a bill, for example by autopen.”Article 1, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution: “Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves he shall sign it…” Now how the name of chicanery did the OLC “conclude” that? Just where does the Constitution say it’s okay for a machine to sign laws? What happens years from now when the government wants to prove to the people that it’s had the power to do some legal trickery for years? Drag out a former president’s autopen program to retroactively sign an empowering bit of “legislation”, wait for the ink to dry and tell us the law is really decades old?..

The administration of this blog again strongly recommends that readers click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this comment fully. That stated, one is always encouraged to take some opinions posted on the internet with a proverbial “grain of salt,” but under the circumstances the points raised in the citation above are valid.

Clearly, there is room for debate as to the legitimacy of “autopen” usage in the adoption of legislation. In fact, there could be an argument that failure to fully adhere to Article 1 Section 7 noted above creates an implication that the extension of the Patriot Act fails to conform to notions of due process of law under the American Constitution. How this issue will play out in the months and days ahead remains to be seen, but it seems likely that further discussion of “autopen” usage may arise in the future.

For related information please see: Legal.

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10th April 2011

In previous postings on this blog it was noted that the issue of impeaching of President Barack Obama was brought up in the context of the administration’s current position regarding enforcement of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). At the time of that posting, the notion seemed a bit more far fetched compared to the tone some lawmakers and advocates on Capital Hill are now taking especially in light of the recent events in Libya and what appeared to be partisan acrimony in the lead up to the 11th hour agreement to keep the United States government funded.

Many legislators seem rather fixated upon the President’s recent actions in Libya and elsewhere in North Africa. To quote Representative Ron Paul directly from his recent speech on the floor of the United States House of Representatives (as found at approximately the 2:00 minute mark of the YouTube video referenced in the aforementioned hyperlink):

“It is against international law and it challenges the war powers resolution…”

Meanwhile, dissenting voices are not only heard on the Republican side of the current political aisle as Democratic members of Congress have voiced concern about Mr. Obama’s recent decisions regarding the situation in Libya. To quote directly from Representative Dennis Kucinich (approximately the 2:40 mark) in a video on YouTube from a broadcast which would appear to have initially aired on Russia Today, the Representative summed up his position on Obama’s decision regarding Libya, when asked if the President’s actions were impeachable and for further elaboration on that subject:

…He did not abide by the Constitution…

Readers of this blog are highly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks above to view these videos in detail in order to gain real insight on these issues. Concurrently, it would appear as though American advocates for Constitutional adherence are becoming increasingly vocal in their opposition to recent policies of the Obama Administration as writer Ben Smith noted in a concise and interesting article on the website Politico, to quote directly from Mr. Smith:

A prominent libertarian constitutional lawyer and civil libertarian has drafted an article of impeachment against President Obama over his attack on Libya, throwing down a legal gauntlet that could be picked up by some Congressional Republicans

Bruce Fein, a former Reagan administration official in the Department of Justice and chairman of American Freedom Agenda writes in his 15-page argument of Obama’s course that “Barack Hussein Obama has mocked the rule of law, endangered the very existence of the Republic and the liberties of the people, and perpetrated an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.”

This blogger undertook some research regarding Mr. Bruce Fein as he appears to be a very learned individual especially regarding the subject and intentions underlying the drafting of the United States Constitution. Recently, Mr. Fein was featured in a 2 part interview on YouTube’s Alex Jones Channel and his analysis of the issues at play as well as the Constitutional legal principles underlying those issues was highly insightful, especially for those who may be unaccustomed to a truly thoughtful analysis of Constitutional law and the original intentions behind the adoption of the Checks and Balances system inherent to the Separation of Powers embodied within the provisions of the Constitution itself. Many people are under the mistaken impression that the only issues that come up with regard to the United States Constitution pertain to the so-called “Bill of Rights”, the reference to the original 10 Amendments to the Constitution which most clearly elucidates the rights, privileges, and immunities of States and People of the United States of America. However, the provisions regarding the relationships and interrelationships between the Several States and the Federal Government, the People and the Federal Government, the States’ relationships amongst themselves, and the States’ relationship to the People are more clearly defined within the provisions of the US Constitution itself.

One quote that this blogger felt was of most significance during the interview came when Mr. Fein stated (at approximately the 5:20 minute mark of the interview mentioned above):

“…The fundamental rule of law is at stake here.”

Later in this same interview (at approximately the 8:30 minute mark at part 2 of this interview) Mr. Fein went on to take exception with an apparent policy that Americans can be placed upon “assassination lists” if found to be an imminent threat to the country. Mr. Fein took exception with this policy based upon a belief that the United States government is not permitted to take the life of an American Citizen without the due process of law.  He went on to note that the so-called “Patriot Act” is “being used against us” (use of the word us implying the American People). Those interested in these issues are strongly encouraged to click on the links above and review this interview as it is quite insightful.

That said, a final resolution to the issues being brought to the foreground by Representatives such as Mr. Kucinich and Dr. Paul as well as advocates such as Mr. Fein has yet to manifest itself from the bubbling cauldron that is the American political system. To paraphrase Ted “Theodore” Logan from one of this blogger’s all time favorite movies, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: Strange Things Are Afoot On Capital Hill. How the issues noted above will play out in a Congress that just barely managed to patch together an 11th hour resolution to keep the government funded remains to be seen.

Strictly speaking, proceedings such as impeachment have a more political character compared to, say, a legal proceeding, but the outcomes of such proceedings can have legal consequences as well as consequences in the policy arena. To be candid, such events can even have geopolitical consequences as evidenced in the waning days of the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton or, arguably, those of Richard Nixon or even Andrew Johnson. Therefore, in today’s interconnected world American Presidential impeachment can have ramifications for people as geographically distant as China or the Nations comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In real terms, all hyperbole aside: is impeachment possible? Certainly, it is always a technical possibility under the provisions of the United States Constitution. The question to be asked by the observant student of political and legal history in the United States is: can Senatorial removal be considered a real possibility? This is a much murkier issue as the Senate of the United States is currently dominated by members of the Democratic Party who would likely prove less-than-willing to vote to remove a President of their own Party. To put it as simply as possible, it is this blogger’s opinion that notwithstanding the possibility that articles of impeachment may be introduced against Mr. Obama, the possibility of seeing those articles of impeachment adopted by the full House of Representatives is simply that: a possibility.

To sum up, whatever one’s opinions are regarding Mr. Obama’s administration there is one thing that is certain: he will be running for a second Presidential term. Mr. Obama recently announced that he would be seeking the office of the Presidency for a second time. To quote directly from The Link Paper at thelinkpaper.ca:

US President Barack Obama announced his decision to run for a second term as he called upon his supporters to mobilise for the 2012 election campaign. “This campaign is just kicking off,” Obama said on his official website. In a message to his supporters through email, text and video, titled ‘It Begins with Us’, Obama said he would be filing his papers to launch his campaign for a second term.

As of yet, it would appear as though Mr. Obama’s main Presidential challengers have yet to officially reveal themselves. Although the reconvening Congress may be more interesting even than that which very nearly shutdown only mere hours ago.

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9th April 2011

It would appear as though government shutdown has been averted, at least for the time being as an apparent bi-partisan initiative has resulted in continued funding for the United States government. To quote directly from ABC News on go.com:

Barely more than an hour before a midnight deadline Friday night, officials announced a deal to avert a government shutdown. “We will cut $78.5 billion below the president’s 2011 budget proposal, and we have reached an agreement on the policy riders,” House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote in a joint statement.

The agreement would cut $37.67 billion from the 2010 budget and keep intact funding to Planned Parenthood, sources from both parties told ABC News.

“We protected the investments we need to win the future,” President Obama said after the deal was struck. “At the same time, we also made sure at the end of the day this was a debate about spending cuts — not social issues like women’s health and the protection of our air and water. These are important issues that deserve discussion, just not during a debate about our budget.”

Readers of this blog are highly encouraged to visit the above links to gain more insight on this story.

On a related note, credit where credit is due regarding the preparations seemingly undertaken by the officers of the Department of State in trying to front load their efforts as much as humanly possible regarding previously-approved visa issuances as the prospect of Government Shutdown became more acute.

On a less related note, those interested in the struggle for equality for the LGBT community in the context of the United States immigration process should take note of the fact that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) attempted to put a hold on deportations involving same sex bi-national couples before having that hold rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). USCIS, your efforts to help keep bi-national families together has not gone unnoticed.

It would seem as though the ultimate resolution on this issue will come either in the form of a legal opinion from the United States Supreme Court, as in a case such as that from the Massachusetts Federal Court and others in the US Courts currently working their way through the appellate process, or through enactment of legislation which would repeal, hopefully at the very least, the Federal recognition provisions currently embodied in the language of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) similar to the legislation colloquially referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act and/or the Uniting American Families Act.

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15th March 2011

อาจจะเป็นเรื่องประเด็นทางการเมืองและทางกฎหมายที่ซับซ้อนเรื่องหนึ่งในหมู่ชาวอเมริกันที่มีแนวคิดตามสมัยซึ่งมีรายงานจากหลายแหล่งว่า ประธานาธิบดีบารัก โอบามา อยู่ภายใต้แรงกดดันจากคนหลายๆกลุ่มๆที่อยู่บนพื้นฐานของการพิจารณาว่า ไม่บังคับตามบทบัญญัติหลักที่เรียกว่า “พระราชบัญญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงาน” (DOMA) อ้างโดยตรงจากบทความที่เขียนใน AfricaOnline.com:

โฆษกคนก่อนของบ้านจิงริช แนะนำว่า ประธานาธิบดีโอบามาก้าวล้ำข้อผูกพันที่เกี่ยวกํฐณํบะรรฒฯยเมื่อเขาไม่อาจจะปกป้องพระราชบัญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงานในศาล

ในการที่จะปฏิบัติตามรัฐธรรมนูญสหรัฐอเมริกานั้น ขอบเขตระหว่างประเด็นทางการเมืองและทางกฎหมายเริ่มต้นที่จะไม่ชัดเจนและสำหรับเหตุผลของประเด็นแวดล้อมไปด้วยสถานการณ์ทางกฎหมายที่น่าสนใจในประวัติศาสตร์เมื่อไม่นานมานี้ซึ่งยากที่จะเข้าใจสำหรับผู้ที่ไม่ได้ติดตามในประเด็นนี้ กล่าวโดยย่อ รัฐบาลกลางสหรัฐอเมริกาเพิ่งจะขัดขวางเรื่องการแต่งงานระหว่างคู่เพศเดียวกันในบทบัญญัติของพระราชบัญญัติคุ้มตรองการแต่งงาน (DOMA) ในขณะเดียวกัน 7 เขตอำนาจศาลในสหรัฐอเมริกา ประกอบด้วย 6 รัฐเอกราช ได้มีการอนุญาตแก่คู่แต่งงานเพศเดียวกัน ในขณะที่ หลายรัฐมหาอำนาจในสหรัฐอเมริกามีการประกาศใช้การแก้ไขรัฐธรรมนูญของรัฐในการห้ามการแต่งงานระหว่างคู่เพศฌดียวกัน ปัจจุบันนี้ มีหลายกรณีที่ตัดสินโดยศาลแห่งรัฐแมสซาชูเซสซึ่งรัฐมีสิทธิพื้นฐานที่จะแต่งงานภายในเขตอำนาจ สิทธิของทนายความแต่ละรัฐ ประเด็นที่สำคัญใน กรณีของ DOMA คือ การยอมรับของส่วนกลางของการแต่งงานคู่เพศเดียวกันตามกฎหมายและการบังคับตามเขตอำนาจศาล อ้างนายจิงริชต่อใน  AfricaOnline.com:

“นึกภาพว่า รัฐมนตรีเพลินกลายเป็นประธานาธิบดี” จิงริชกล่าว “นึกภาพว่า เธอเพิ่งประกาศว่า (Roe versus Wade )โรล เวอซํส เวดด์ในมุมมองของเธอไม่เป็นไปตามรัฐธรรมนูญและรัฐบาลสหรัฐอเมริกาไม่ได้ปกป้องสิทธิของใครในการที่จะทำแท้ง เพราะโดยส่วนตัวแล้วเธอตัดสินใจที่จะเปลี่ยน สื่อมวลชนกำลังบ้าคลั่ง นิวยอร์ก ไทม์กำลังจะกล่าวโทษเธอ”

หรับผู้ที่ไม่คุ้นเคยกับคำตัดสิน Roe versus Wade คดีนี้เกิดในศาลสูงสุดซึ่งอนุญาตให้ผู้หญิงทำแท้งได้โดยเป็นไปตามการตีความตามรัฐธรรมนูญสหรัฐอเมริกา เป็นเรื่องที่น่าสนใจว่า นายจิงริชอ้างว่า ขาดแคลนความสนใจกระแสของสื่อซึ่งมีผู้ที่ถกเถียงเกี่ยวกับสิทธิที่เท่าเทียมกันของกลุ่มคนเลสเบี้ยน เกย์ ไบเซ็กชวล คนแปลงเพศในประเด็นที่ตรวจสอบโดยสื่อมวลชน เพื่อความเข้าใจ ประเด็นของคู่เพศเดียวกันแต่งงานในการที่จะทำให้มีปฏิกิริยาที่แข็งแกร่งจากส่วนต่างๆของมุมมองอเมริกัน อ้างโดยตรงจากเว็บไซต์ThinkProgress.org:

ขณะนี้สิทธิของฝ่ายปกครองที่จะประกาศว่า จะไม่มีการปกป้องการบังคับตามมาตรา 3 พระราชบัญญํติคุ้มครองครอบครัว (DOMA) สมาชิกสภาเทนท์ แฟรงก์ (R-AZ)เรียกร้องที่จะให้มีการกล่าวโทษโอบามา

หลังจากที่ริพลับลิกันในอริโซนามีการเรียกร้องต่อกระทรวงยุติธรรมหากมีการปกป้องมาตรา 3 พระราชบัญญัติ DOMA “ผมอยากที่จะสนับสนุนในเวลานี้” แฟรงค์กล่าว –เขากล่าวต่อไปว่า ถ้ามีการรวบรวมการสนับสนุน ต้องมีการกล่าวโทษโอบามาอย่างแน่นอนและอัยการอีริคโฮล์เดอร์

สิ่งที่ปรากฏว่า ประเด็นนี้เป็นเหตุให้เกิดความวุ่นวายทางการเมืองสำหรับโอบามา แต่สิ่งที่น่าสนใจมากกว่านั้นในประเด็นนี้ทั้งในหมู่ของเพศที่สาม LGBT และรัฐที่มีเอกราชซึ่งเป็นสหรัฐอเมริกา

เพื่อความเข้าใจ ผู้เขียนบทความเชื่อว่าสิทธิในการแต่งงานของผู้ที่เลือกแต่งงานตามสิทธิพื้นฐานที่ไม่สามารถโอนแก่กันได้และการได้รับการปกป้องอย่างเท่าเทียมกันของสิทธิที่ควรจะเป็นของเลสเบี้ยน เกย์ ไบเซ็กชวล และกลุ่มที่แปลงเพศ (LGBT) ความเห็นส่วนตัวของผู้เขียน ถ้าคนสองคนประสงค์ที่จะแต่งงานด้วยความเต็มใจ  แล้วเรื่อง เพศ ไม่ควรจะเป็นวัตถุประสงค์ของการยอมรับของรัฐบาล อย่างไรก็ตาม มีการโต้แย้งที่มีน้ำหนักในการที่ต้องการการยอมรับของคู่แต่งงานเพศเดียวกัน และการโต้แย้งนี้ได้รับข้อมูลมาจากรัฐทั้งหกที่อนุญาตให้รูปแบบของคู่เพศเดียวกัน (ประเพณีทางสังคม หรือการแต่งงาน) โดยปรากฏอย่างชัดเจนรัฐโดยประเพณีที่จะทำให้การแต่งงานถูกต้องตามกฎหมายในเขตอำนาจนั้นและรัฐบาลกลางคววรต้องให้การยอมรับกลุ่มคนประเภทนี้ แต่บทบัญญัติของ DOMA ไม่ได้อ้างถึงเรื่องการยอมรับ ตัวอย่างเช่น คู่เพศเดียวกันที่มีการสมรสอย่างถูกต้องตามกฎหมาย แมสซาชูเซสไม่สามารถที่จะให้สิทธิประโยชน์เหมือนที่คู่ต่างเพศได้รับตามบทบัญญัติในพระราชบัญญัติ DOMA มีประเด็นบางเรื่องเกี่ยวกับการบัญญํติกฎหมาย เช่น พระราชบัญญัติการรวมกลุ่มของครอบครัวอเมริกัน(UAFA)ซึ่งเป็นการแก้ปัญหานี้ในบริบทของคนเข้าเมืองสหรัฐอเมริกา แต่ยังละทิ้งคำถามพื้นฐานที่ยังหาคำตอบไม่ได้ เมื่อไหร่รัฐบาลกลางให้อำนาจแก่รัฐ ควรจะมีการก่อตั้งสิทธิแต่งงาน

ตามที่คำตัดสินของโอบามาที่ไม่ดำเนินคดีนี้ตามพระราชบัญญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงาน ทัศนคตินี้เป็นเรื่องที่น่ายกย่อง แต่การกระทำโดยรวมแล้วไม่อาจที่จะก่อให้เกิดประโยชน์แก่กลุ่มLGBT ในผลลัพธ์ของแต่ละกรณี หากกรณีใด หรือข้อขัดแย้งใดเกิดก่อนชั้นศาลสูงสุด เป็นการเปลี่ยนแปลงสำหรับศาลสูงสุดที่จะขยายข้อผูกพันของคำตัดสินศาลสูงสุดตามพระราชบัญญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงาน (และมีแนวโน้มที่ทั้งหมดจะพูดถึงประเด็นเรื่องคู่เพศเดียวกัน)  บทของความน่าเชื่อถือและศรัทธา และประเด็นทางกฎฎหมายอื่นๆ เช่นความแตกต่างของคู่สองสัญชาติเพศเดียวกันซึ่งจะเป็นส่วนส่วนของการบังคับใช้พพระราชบัญญัติคุ้มครองการแต่งงาน

ความเห็นส่วนตัวของผู้เขียนบทความนี้ ศาลสูงสุดสหรัฐอเมริกาจะยอมรับการแต่งงานของคู่เพศเดียวกัน แต่สิ่งที่จะสามารถพิสูจน์สิทธิของรัฐที่จะกำหนดนโยบายสำหรับผู้ที่จะแต่งงานในเขตอำนาจในขณะที่ ความเป็นเสรีนิยม หรือ สังคมนิยม ของศาลให้คู่เพศเดียวกันได้รับการยอมรับในการแต่งงานในรัฐซึ่งเป็นประเด็นที่เป็นสิทธิของงพลเมือง

To see this information in the English language please see: Defense of Marriage Act.

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