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Saturday, August 5, 2000
Clinton vetoes marriage-tax reduction
A story published today by the Associated Press reports that
President Clinton announced his veto plans today for the Republican-sponsored tax cut for
married couples, including those now penalized by higher rates.
In his weekly radio address, Clinton ticked off economic successes
of his seven-year administration and said the course he charted "is the right path
"We can't retreat from this opportunity of a lifetime to keep
our economy strong and move our country forward,'' Clinton said.
"That's why I'm vetoing legislation that represents the first
installment of a fiscally reckless tax strategy.'' Clinton's veto of the $292 billion,
10-year tax cut is no surprise, since he promised to kill the measure even before the
Senate gave final congressional approval to the legislation on July 21.
"On Capitol Hill, the Republican majority has passed a series
of expensive tax breaks to drain nearly a trillion dollars from the projected surplus,''
in federal budget coffers, Clinton said.
The veto, which comes between the two political parties' national
nominating conventions, is tricky for Democrats.
Many Republicans believe Clinton's veto gives them a winning
political issue by demonstrating that with a GOP-controlled
Congress, a Democratic president is the only obstacle to sweeping tax reductions.
At a campaign rally Friday in Akron, Ohio, GOP presidential nominee
George W. Bush ridiculed Clinton's decision to veto the bill. "What kind of a tax
code is it that discourages marriage?'' he said.
Friday, August 4, 2000
Federal appeals court breathes life back into marital status housing protections
An 11-judge panel of the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed two lower court rulings that authorized so-called
"religious" landlords to discriminate against unmarried couples who seek to rent
apartments. As a result, several states and municipal governments in the western
region of the nation are now free to protect unmarried couples from housing discrimination
by enforcing laws prohibiting marital status discrimination in rental housing.
The case, Thomas v. Anchorage Equal
Rights Commission, arose after the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that landlords in the state
could not use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against unmarried
couples. The state court concluded that all commercial businesses must obey laws
prohibiting marital status discrimination.
In the wake of that ruling, some
landlords filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Alaska seeking an injunction to
prohibit the state and the city of Anchorage from enforcing the marital status
nondiscrimination laws against them. They argued that the Free Exercise Clause of
the federal constitution protected their right to refuse to rent to people who might
commit sins on the rental property.
A federal judge agreed and issued an
injunction against the city and the state. In a 2 to 1 decision, a federal appeals
court upheld the injunction.
Both government entities asked the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing before a larger appellate panel of
judges. The court agreed to grant a rehearing, en banc.
Joined by attorneys general from
seven western states and a host of private nonprofit advocacy groups, the city of
Anchorage and the state of Alaska argued that the federal court should not have intervened
in the first place since the alleged harm to the landlords was merely hypothetical and not
real. No actual tenants were involved. No investigation had begun.
The 11-judge panel agreed that the
case was merely hypothetical and therefore should not have been allowed to proceed in the
In the opinion it issued today, the
"This is a case in search of a controversy. Several landlords
mount a First Amendment free exercise of religion and free speech challenge to the Alaska
housing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status. We do not address
this constitutional question, however, because this preenforcement challenge presents a
threshold issue of justiciability. No prospective tenant has ever complained to the
landlords, let alone filed a complaint against them. Neither the Alaska State Commission
for Human Rights nor the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission has ever initiated an
investigation into the landlords' rental practices or commenced a civil enforcement action
or criminal prosecution under the challenged laws. No violation of the laws is on the
horizon and no enforcement action or prosecution is either threatened or imminent. Indeed,
the principal enforcement agencies had never even heard of these landlords before they
filed this action. Simply put, at this stage the dispute is purely hypothetical and the
injury is speculative. Whether viewed through the lens of standing or ripeness, resolution
of the First Amendment issues is premature. Thus, dismissal of this action is
Landlords wishing to discriminate against unmarried couples have
lost this battle, but there the fair housing war will go on.
For example, a case involving tenants denied housing by a Michigan
landlord continues to be litigated. More than a year ago, a divided Michigan Supreme
Court ruled that the marital status laws in that state protected unmarried couples from
housing discrimination. However, it left open the question as to whether a
landlord's religious belief that unmarried cohabitation is sinful would be grounds for the
landlord to obtain a "religious freedom" exemption from the state civil rights
laws. The case was sent back to the lower court for further review.
Over the past few months, depositions have been taken of the
landlords and the tenants in that case, Baiz v. Hoffius. In the coming weeks, it is
expected that a trial court judge will rule on whether the landlords must obey the law
like any other commercial establishment must, or whether they can use their religious
beliefs as a legal justification to discriminate.
Thursday, August 3, 2000
Marital status gap a big feature of
A story published today by the
Associated Press reports that the marital status gap is becoming a larger issue than the
gender gap in the current race for President of the United States.
George W. Bush is gained ground during the Republican National
Convention among the exact voters he's targeting, surging 18 points ahead of Al Gore among
independents and 6 points ahead among women, according to a bipartisan poll released
The two candidates were virtually tied among both groups at the
start of the week in the Voter.com-Battleground poll. Bush has long held a commanding lead
among men, now at 21 points.
Bush's advantage includes bigger leads among key groups Democrats
very much need such as white women 65 and older and white married working moms, the poll
Republican Bush leads Democrat Gore 48 percent to 34 percent in the
overall presidential race, with Ralph Nader getting 6 percent and Pat Buchanan getting 2
percent. That is essentially the same lead Bush had over Gore on Wednesday in the tracking
poll of 1,000 likely voters, and 6 points higher than the initial wave of the tracking
poll released Tuesday.
In the latest poll, Bush led Gore 48 percent to 30 percent among
independents. And Bush had a 47-41 edge among women, a constituency Gore must have to win.
Bush has double digit leads among white women (51-36), white working
married mothers (52-36) and white women 65 and older (53-32). These are groups President
Clinton carried in 1996 against Bob Dole.
Gore is losing among married voters, by 34 percentage points among
married men and 13 percentage points among married women.
"The marriage gap is as big or bigger than the gender gap,''
Lake said, ``and is becoming a profound feature of this election.''
Wednesday, August 2, 2000
Poor kids with single parents have more behavior problems
A story published today in the
Seattle Times reports that young children and
adolescents living in low-income households are twice as likely to have serious emotional
and behavioral problems than other kids their age, according to a report released
yesterday by Washington Kids Count.
The report, entitled "Emotional and Behavioral Problems Among
Washington's Children," was based on local analysis of data compiled by the national
Urban Institute three years ago.
Kids Count, a public-policy project by the University of Washington,
looked at the 2,400 families that were surveyed in Washington.
The study found that in low-income families, one in 14 young
children ages 6 to 11 exhibited serious emotional or behavioral problems, compared with
one in 22 children living with families with adequate income.
One in 10 adolescents aged 12 to 17 from low-income families showed
signs of problems, compared with one in 20 teens in families with adequate income.
The study also showed that adolescents living with single-parent
families are twice as likely to have problems. One in nine teens who lived with one parent
exhibited behavioral or emotional problems, compared with one in 22 who lived with