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Neel Kashkari praises teacher-tenure ruling

A Los Angeles judge’s ruling Tuesday that California’s teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws are unconstitutional is “an important first step in transforming our schools,” Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari said.

“I applaud today’s ruling by Judge Treu, which recognizes that every student in California has a Constitutional right to a quality education but that their rights are being violated by failing schools,” Kashkari said in a statement issued soon after the ruling.

“California ranks 46th in the nation in education, and it will take the joint efforts of parents, teachers and political leaders to make the bold changes our kids deserve,” he said. “Today’s ruling is an important first step in transforming our schools; if we are to close the achievement gap, reduce income inequality and rebuild the middle class, then we must continue to pursue bold education reform. I have made transforming our schools a centerpiece of my campaign for Governor and I am encouraged by today’s development.”

UPDATE @ 12:40 P.M.: Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s senior Democrat, also applauded the ruling:

“Judge Treu’s ruling affirms the simple and undeniable premise that every child, regardless of background or zip code, has the right to a high-quality education and an effective teacher. It is not only Californians who should celebrate today’s decision, but families in every state and school district across the country.

“For years, our nation’s courts have been the arbiter of equity in education. Like Brown v. Board, Serrano, Butt, and the many other landmark educational equality cases before it, Vergara will help refocus our education system on the needs of students.

“Unfortunately, school districts nationwide have policies in place that mirror those challenged in Vergara—policies that constrain the ability of schools to put the very best teachers in front the children that need them most. This is simply indefensible. Today’s ruling puts every school with similar policies on notice.

“I call upon all stakeholders in my home state—elected officials, community and school leaders, and teachers—to be bold and do what is right for kids. This is an historic opportunity and a defining moment for California, one that we must not squander. The Vergara decision underscores the state’s responsibility to protect the rights of children to constitutionally mandated equal educational opportunities. We owe it to the six million students in California’s public education system to be thoughtful and deliberate, and to put their needs first as we move forward.”

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California state officials speak on SCOTUS ruling

California’s foremost elected officials are speaking out about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“Today’s dramatic Supreme Court ruling removes the last roadblock to fulfilling President Obama’s historic plan to bring health care to millions of uninsured citizens.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“There is a healthcare crisis in this country, a crisis with profound implications for each citizen in every city and county in America. Today’s United States Supreme Court decision, which upheld the individual insurance requirement, is just a start. But the decision allowing states to opt-out of Medicaid expansion still leaves millions of Americans vulnerable.

“We can — and must – act now to do more to offer healthcare access to all. We do not have time to stand on the sidelines. There is a crisis but there is also a solution.

“Americans know it is much less expensive to keep people healthy than it is to treat their sickness. This is particularly true when much of the treatment for uninsured Americans is provided in costly emergency rooms. Without a universal healthcare plan, our emergency rooms will continue to bear the brunt of this crisis and citizens will pay the price with higher taxes, more expensive premiums, hidden costs and increased fees.

“While serving as mayor of San Francisco, I saw first hand the impact of the healthcare crisis on the insured, uninsured, businesses, emergency rooms and municipal coffers.
We decided to address this crisis head-on and launched the country’s first local universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco. It is blueprint that can be replicated by cities and counties across the nation. A public plan can work. San Francisco is proving it.

“Since being implemented, more than 80 percent of uninsured San Franciscans have received medical coverage. Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance, instead it provides access to affordable basic and ongoing health care services for the uninsured, regardless of immigration status, employment status, or pre-existing medical conditions.

“We must not wait for the federal government to take the lead in the wake of the today’s Supreme Court decision. Cities and counties across the nation, such as Dallas, Indianapolis, and Miami, have already taken steps to establish healthcare service access programs. California must move forward with innovative programs, like Healthy San Francisco, that provide access to healthcare and not simply access to healthcare insurance.”

From Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“Today’s decision is a historic victory for Californians, for the President, and for the country. The Affordable Care Act repairs a healthcare system badly in need of reform and ensures that every American has access to affordable health care. We never doubted the constitutionality of this law, and it is already making a difference in the lives of millions of Californians.”

More, after the jump…
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McNerney, Garamendi & foes on SCOTUS ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act ensures the health care reform law will be a top issue in this November’s battles for control of the House. In and near the Bay Area, the candidates have come out swinging today.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District:

Jerry McNerney“When I am with people, working in our region, I hear how having access to affordable health care is imperative to our families. I have been unemployed and understand what it’s like to worry about providing for your family and had to struggle to find health coverage.

“The health care reform we passed is far from perfect and needs to be improved upon, but it is a big step in the right direction. Folks who are uninsured will now have some peace of mind, knowing that they will have health care. In our area, where unemployment has been much higher than the rest of the country, and where people need access to affordable health care, this is a vital element to our economic recovery.”

And from McNerney’s opponent this November, Republican candidate Ricky Gill of Lodi:

Ricky Gill “Jerry McNerney promised that his health care plan would reduce health care costs, but today we learned it is simply a massive tax increase that is already contributing to skyrocketing health care premiums for middle class families. Jerry McNerney stands for the status quo, but I am committed to moving responsibly towards bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform that increases patient choice, reduces costs, and protects coverage for seniors, young people and those with pre-existing health conditions.”

From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who’s seeking re-election in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District:

John Garamendi “When people fall ill, we should help them get better. Most of us have experienced hard times. Many of us have gone without health coverage. When you lay all the heated rhetoric and legalese aside, the health care debate is really about what we’re going to do when people get sick or injured. In America, we should take care of each other. It is irresponsible to force millions of Americans to delay treatment because they can’t afford it, to live one broken leg or one chronic illness away from financial calamity.

“Today a 5-4 majority in the Supreme Court made the right decision. President Obama and Democrats in Congress did the right thing. We developed a plan that extended health coverage to most Americans. We fulfilled our moral obligation to seniors, to children, and to hardworking Americans. The Supreme Court sided with our authority to improve health care for all Americans.

“The health care law establishes a powerful Patient’s Bill of Rights. No longer will Americans with a pre-existing condition be denied health coverage. No longer will women be charged more for coverage. The health law will finally close the prescription drug donut hole, so seniors can afford their medication. The benefits of the Affordable Care Act have already started. 32.5 million Seniors have already received free preventative services. Three million additional young adults now have health coverage because of the law. Small businesses can take advantage of tax credits so they can provide insurance for their employees. Starting in 2014, 30 million more Americans will be able to afford access to health care.

“Jesus taught us, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ All the world’s great religions urge us to be compassionate and to help the sick. All good people recoil at the sight of needless suffering and cruelty.

“We all deserve the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. While I hope to eventually see Medicare for All in America, the Affordable Care Act is a vast improvement over the dark days when we allowed the insurance companies to run roughshod over our health.”

And from Garamendi’s opponent this November, Republican candidate and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann:

Kim Vann “Today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the urgency with which Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with solutions that do not tax and cripple our economy. Rather than providing a lasting solution to the challenges facing our health care system, the health care law places a $600 billion tax on American families and businesses, while cutting over $500 billion from Medicare, empowering an unelected and unaccountable board of bureaucrats to make decisions regarding seniors’ health care, and imposing burdensome and costly regulations on our small businesses. It’s clear these solutions aren’t working. We must work for real reforms that lower costs and increase access to quality care, while ensuring that patients and their doctors—not government bureaucrats—remain in control of their healthcare decisions.

“My opponent, Congressman John Garamendi, has already voted for a more radical government health care overhaul than Obamacare. He supports the complete government takeover of health care—a ‘single payer’ government-run system. This radical position is not only out of step with most Republicans and Democrats—it’s out of touch with reality.”

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GOP presidential candidates discuss Prop. 8 ruling

Mitt Romney issued this statement on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional:

“Today, unelected judges cast aside the will of the people of California who voted to protect traditional marriage. This decision does not end this fight, and I expect it to go to the Supreme Court. That prospect underscores the vital importance of this election and the movement to preserve our values. I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and, as president, I will protect traditional marriage and appoint judges who interpret the Constitution as it is written and not according to their own politics and prejudices.”

Newt Gingrich responded to the ruling with a Tweet – “Court of Appeals overturning CA’s Prop 8 another example of an out of control judiciary. Let’s end judicial supremacy” – with a link to a section of his platform in which he promises to “(r)estore the proper role of the judicial branch by using the clearly delineated powers available to the president and Congress to correct, limit, or replace judges who violate the Constitution.

I’ve not yet seen statements from Rick Santorum, who is dead-set against same-sex marriage, or Ron Paul, who believes government has no place in the marriage issue but personally believes marriage is only between a man and a woman.

UPDATE @ 2:31 P.M.: Gingrich just issued this statement:

“With today’s decision on marriage by the Ninth Circuit, and the likely appeal to the Supreme Court, more and more Americans are being exposed to the radical overreach of federal judges and their continued assault on the Judeo-Christian foundations of the United States.

“I was drawn back into public life by the Ninth Circuit’s 2002 decision that held that the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance were unconstitutional. Today’s decision is one more example that the American people cannot rest until we restore the proper rule of the judicial branch and bring judges and the Courts back under the Constitution.

“The Constitution of the United States begins with ‘We the People;’ it does not begin with ‘We the Judges.’ Federal judges need to take heed of that fact.

“Federal judges are substituting their own political views for the constitutional right of the people to make judgments about the definition of marriage.

“The country has been here before. In 1856, the Supreme Court thought it could settle the issue of slavery once and for all and impose a judicial solution on the country. In 1973, the issue was abortion and once again a Supreme Court thought that it could impose a judicial solution on the country once and for all.

“Judicial solutions don’t solve contentious social issues once and for all.

“Should the Supreme Court fail to heed the disastrous lessons if its own history and attempt to impose its will on the marriage debate in this country by affirming today’s Ninth Circuit decision, it will bear the burden of igniting a constitutional crisis of the first order.

“The political branches of the federal government, as well as the political branches of the several States, will surely not passively accept the dictates of the federal judiciary on this issue. An interventionist approach by the Court on marriage will lead to a crisis of legitimacy for the federal judiciary from which it may take generations to recover.”

UPDATE @ 4:20 P.M.: Santorum tweets, “7M Californians had their rights stripped away today by activist 9th Circuit judges. As president I will work to protect marriage.”

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What they’re saying about the Prop. 8 ruling

My esteemed colleague Howard Mintz has the full story on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, and you can read the opinion yourself (assuming the court’s website doesn’t get overloaded again) by clicking here.

Meanwhile, here’s a treasury of quotes from elected officials.

From House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco:

“Today’s decision is a victory for civil rights and for progress for the LGBT community and for all Californians.

“By declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit made a strong statement that laws must not target the LGBT community for discrimination and all of our state’s families deserve to enjoy fair and equal treatment under the law.

“As this battle moves through the appeals process, we must, and will, continue the fight for the fundamental rights of LGBT couples and every American. We will keep up the charge for change and equality in state legislatures and in the courts, and work in Congress to repeal and overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act. Together, we will make every discriminatory marriage amendment and law a thing of the past.”

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

“The court has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry. I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“Today’s decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals stands as a victory for the fundamental American principle that all people are equal, and deserve equal rights and treatment under the law. This is the biggest step that the American judicial system has taken to end the grievous discrimination against men and women in same-sex relationships and should be highly praised.

“Proposition 8 has done nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that same-sex couples are inferior to heterosexual couples. These men and women are our firefighters, our paramedics, our law enforcement, our service-members, and to treat their relationships differently is unfair, unlawful, and violates the basic principle of who we are as a nation.

“Today however, it has been made clear that this type of discrimination will not be tolerated—there is no state power or law that can claim one type of love is more deserving of status and benefits than another. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has fulfilled its obligation to all Americans by protecting the fundamental right of all people to marry those whom they love. It has upheld the overall integrity of the American judicial system by placing individual characteristics of judges and justices secondary to their duty and commitment to true justice and equality.

“Although countless people have worked tirelessly to achieve this ruling, I would like to recognize the inspiring dedication demonstrated by the American Foundation for Equal Rights. They have never relented in their mission for equal marriage rights and should be highly commended for these efforts.

“While today marks a historic milestone towards equality for all Americans, our journey is not over until the highest court in the United States reaches the same decision that the Court of Appeals did today. It is on that day that the struggle for equality will be over and the dream on which this great nation was founded will become a reality.”

From state Attorney General Kamala Harris:

“Today’s ruling is a victory for fairness, a victory for equality and a victory for justice. Proposition 8 denied to gay and lesbian couples the equal protection to which all Americans are entitled. By striking this unconstitutional law from our books, the court has restored dignity, equality and respect to all Californians.”

For some counterpoint (although he’s not an elected official), here’s SaveCalifornia.com President Randy Thomasson:

“God created a man and a woman to fit together in marriage. The People of California have twice affirmed this beautiful, natural, and exclusive pro-family institution between a husband and wife, a man and a woman. The Ninth Circuit ruling to strike down man-woman marriage, by a Carter judge and a Clinton judge, is unfair to the voters, against our republic, against our democratic system, against the United States Constitution, against Nature, and against God and His beneficial design of family.

“It’s illogical and unconstitutional to claim that natural, unchangeable race and ethnicity is the same as sexual behavior. That’s not fair or true. Race and ethnicity are inherited, but science has never found homosexuality, bisexuality, or transsexuality to be inherited or unchangeable. Neither is this about commitment. As the divorce of leading anti-Prop. 8 lesbians Robin Tyler and Diane Olson demonstrates, the notion of homosexual ‘marriage’ is not really about ‘commitment,’ but is a political agenda forcing acceptance of homosexuality upon the children of America. Yet nothing is equal to marriage between a man and a woman. If you don’t have a man and a woman, you don’t have marriage.

‘Judicial activists like Stephen Reinhardt and Michael Daly Hawkins need to be reined in like Newt Gingrich has been saying about judicial activists. Marriage is not in the United States Constitution, so this case should never have gone to federal court. Now it will be appealed to the nation’s high court, with Anthony Kennedy being the deciding vote. Fortunately, in past rulings favoring homosexuality, Kennedy has written against redefining marriage, making it likely that he will affirm California’s right to reserve marriage licenses for ‘a man and a woman.'”

Lots more, after the jump…
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George Miller blasts SCOTUS’ Walmart decision

Today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a class-action lawsuit brought against Walmart by women from across the country alleging years of discrimination in pay and promotions is a travesty, argues Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

“Today’s ruling from the right wing Roberts court is another blow to a woman’s right to fair pay and fair treatment on the job. There is no place in this country for a business to pay women less or promote them less because of their gender,” Miller, the House Education and the Workforce Committee’s ranking Democrat, said in a news release.

“Americans have come to know the phrase ‘too big to fail’ when it comes to our nation’s big banks. Today, the Supreme Court said that women’s efforts to join together nationwide to seek justice against a powerful corporation can be so big they must not be allowed to succeed. This ruling underscores the need for Congress to strengthen our civil rights laws, especially when it comes to ensuring equal pay for equal work, by enacting measures like the Paycheck Fairness Act,” Miller said. “Nondiscrimination is not just a moral issue. In this economy, with family budgets stretched so thinly, no breadwinner can afford to have her pay reduced or her career ladder cut short because she simply happens to be a woman.”

Walmart, of course, is pleased with today’s ruling and believes the court made the right decision.

“Walmart has had strong policies against discrimination for many years. The Court today unanimously rejected class certification and, as the majority made clear, the plaintiffs’ claims were worlds away from showing a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy,” Gisel Ruiz, executive vice president of people for Walmart U.S., said today. ““By reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision, the majority effectively ends this class action lawsuit. Walmart has a long history of providing advancement opportunities for our female associates and will continue its efforts to build a robust pipeline of future female leaders.”

The case’s plaintiffs include some East Bay Walmart employees. Read more on the ruling here.