Field Poll Shows Props 19 and 23 Losing, Props 18 and 25 Passing

By Robert Cruickshank

Field Polls were released last week, always a kind of California political Christmas in July (or whatever month it happens to be), with new numbers on four of the major propositions on the fall ballot, which you can see below. They are Prop 18, the $11 billion water bond which may or may not be on the fall ballot, Prop 19, which would legalize cannabis, Prop 23, which would repeal AB 32 and destroy our green jobs economy, and Prop 25, the majority vote budget initiative.

               Yes  No
Prop 18:    42    32
Prop 19:    44    48
Prop 23:    36    48
Prop 25:    65    20

Historic DOMA Ruling Could Help Repeal Prop 8

By Paul Hogarth

Part 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional yesterday, by a 79-year-old Federal District Court Judge in Boston. Joseph Tauro, the longest serving Nixon appointee on the bench, ruled in a pair of cases that gay couples who were married in Massachusetts are denied equal protection. Part 3 of DOMA denies gay couples (even if a state recognizes their marriage) any of the 1,000-plus federal marriage rights – such as Social Security benefits, immigration or joint tax returns.

Tauro noted how DOMA radically intruded in an area (marriage) that has long been the province of the states. As California awaits a federal court ruling that challenges Prop 8, Tauro’s decision paves the way for marriage equality – by proving that a court doesn’t need to rule under “strict scrutiny” to find DOMA unconstitutional. This is a departure from earlier California cases on marriage equality, and should guide the federal case to repeal Prop 8.

State Faces Multiple Suits for Failure to Adequately Fund Schools

By David M. Greenwald

Given the state of California's economy and cutbacks to education, perhaps it is not surprising that several different groups are threatening to sue. On Thursday a lawsuit was filed in Alameda County by the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators, and the California State PTA.

The suit calls for the courts to get rid of the current financing system and to direct the governor and Legislature to create one that is sound, stable and sufficient. They argued it prevents six million students from receiving the education that they are entitled to under the state's constitution.

California Wal-Mart Workers Win Settlement Over Wage Violations

By Rachel Johnson
California Labor Federation

Wal-Mart has been under fire for years for its shoddy treatment of its employees. In 2006, California Wal-Mart workers decided they’d had enough, taking the fiercely anti-union retail giant to court for failing to pay overtime, vacation and other wages. On Wednesday Wal-Mart ended the lawsuit by agreeing to settle a class action lawsuit and pay up to $86 million to 232,000 affected employees.

Unsolved Homicides: A Public Safety Crisis

By Aqeela Sherrills
California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

On January 10th, 2004, my world turned upside down.  At 11:45pm, I got a call from my son Terrell’s friend Eric stating that he had been shot.  I rushed to the scene and was met by a cop who said that it didn’t look good; the paramedic was transporting him to UCLA.  Terrell, a 19-years-old freshman at Humboldt State University, died that night.

Although there were close to 50 people out there the night he was murdered, no one was willing to come forward and say what they saw.  With no witnesses and no murder weapon recovered, the police never identified Terrell’s murderer.  My family and I were left without justice, wondering, each day, why this tragic incident occurred….while the killer walks free.

Why There is No Constitutional Infirmity in the Health Care Package

By Irwin Nowick

It was suggested that I give my legal analysis as to the legal issues surrounding the insurance mandate in the health care package that President Obama recently signed into law. In making this analysis, I want to emphasize that the views stated are my own and not given in any official capacity. As to the detailed policy specifics of the package, I will leave that to others.

If you cut to the heart of legal issues on this, the real fight is over the so-called “individual mandate” which is a misnomer.   Rather, the final package includes a provision that persons who do not have insurance and are able to afford insurance have to pay an additional income tax for choosing to go bare.  For the reasons noted below, this program with the “mandate” is one Congress can enact.

Activists Face Tough Choices on Immigrant Rights

By Randy Shaw

In April 2006, immigrant rights supporters took to the streets in an unprecedented public demand for legislation that would protect 8-12 million undocumented immigrants from deportation. The marches were followed by two national elections in which anti-immigrant Republican Congress members were defeated for re-election by increased Latino voter turnout, and heavily Democratic Latino voting brought Barack Obama four states that George W. Bush carried in 2004.

Yet comprehensive immigration reform remains an even more uphill battle than in 2006. Activists have set nationwide marches for May 1, and are aggressively pressing President Obama for action. But Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law shows that opponents are also on the move, and that winning Senate passage in 2010 or beyond will likely require political compromises that many activists will reject.

Republican "Job Creation" Plan Looks More Like a Big Business Wish List

By Caitlin Vega
California Labor Federation

With our unemployment rate at the highest rate since the Great Depression, it’s no wonder that politicians are talking about jobs 24/7. But who is serious about putting Californians back to work, and who is just paying lip service?

The Governor and legislative Republicans say jobs are the top priority, but brief look at their policy proposals reveals just the opposite.

Prop 8 Supporters Target New Enemy: Impartial Judges of California Courts

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

In what has been described as an attempt by right wing religious conservatives to "pack the courts" with judges who will oppose Separation of Church and State and "uphold traditional moral beliefs," an organization created by former Prop 8 activists is working to shift the San Diego Superior Court further to the right with a slate judicial conservative candidates to challenge four moderate incumbents of San Diego County's Superior Court in the June primary.

The candidates of the organization, Better Courts Now, were vetted on issues of Separation of Church and State, abortion, same-sex marriage and "traditional moral values," according to the group's web site and BCN leaders.  In what has become the all-too-familiar alliance between religious fundamentalists and pro-business interests, Better Courts Now candidates also pledged their opposition to "end frivolous lawsuits against California businesses."

Judge Wanger Affirms Flows to Protect Central Valley Salmon

By Dan Bacher

Environmentalists, fishermen and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe scored a legal victory on March 31 when a federal judge affirmed restrictions on Delta pumping to protect imperiled Central Valley salmon populations.

In a rebuke to junior water rights holders, Judge Oliver Wanger of the Eastern District of California refused to grant the Westlands Water District and its co-plaintiffs a temporary restraining order on the biological opinion of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The opinion includes seasonal water flows required to protect Sacramento River endangered spring-run Chinook salmon and Central Valley steelhead in the California Delta, according to the Planning and Conservation League (PCL).