Tag Archives: trial

Equality on Trial: Judge Walker issues series of questions prior to Prop 8 trial closing arguments

( – promoted by Julia Rosen)

It’s election day in California and several other states.  With the exception of one statewide race, (AG) Democrats and progressives won’t be compelled to the polls.  Republicans will because of the battle of the billionaires (okay, one billionaire two multi-millionaires).  We can only hope that enough of us vote(d) to beat back two odious ballot measures put on by two big corporations.

But there was already big news today in California about “the trial of the century.”  Judge Vaughn Walker today issued a series of questions for the parties to the federal Prop. 8 trial that began in January and was put on by Ted Olson and David Boies and colleagues and defended by the oxymoronic “Protect Marriage” proponents of Prop. 8.  

The questions are stunning in their breadth, complexity and essence.  Here are just a few:

What empirical data, if any, supports a finding that legal recognition of same-sex marriage reduces discrimination against gays and lesbians?

What are the consequences of a permanent injunction against enforcement of Proposition 8? What remedies do plaintiffs propose?

If the evidence of the involvement of the LDS and Roman Catholic churches and evangelical ministers supports a finding that Proposition 8 was an attempt to enforce private morality, what is the import of that finding?

The court has reserved ruling on plaintiffs’ motion to exclude Mr Blankenhorn’s testimony. If the motion is granted, is there any other evidence to support a finding that Proposition 8 advances a legitimate governmental interest?

Why is legislating based on moral disapproval of homosexuality not tantamount to discrimination? See Doc #605 at 11 (“But sincerely held moral or religious views that require acceptance and love of gay people, while disapproving certain aspects of their conduct, are not tantamount to discrimination.”). What evidence in the record shows that a belief based in morality cannot also be discriminatory? If that moral point of view is not held and is disputed by a small but significant minority of the community, should not an effort to enact that moral point of view into a state constitution be deemed a violation of equal protection?

What does it mean to have a “choice” in one’s sexual orientation? See e g Tr 2032:17-22; PX 928 at 37

I am not a lawyer, but I can without doubt say that never before has homosexuality been on trial in America in this way.  The testimony in January, which I liveblogged, was breathtaking and so sweeping, that the defense (the folks who put Prop. 8 on the ballot) were left with only one argument: marriage has always been between a man and a woman so it should always be between a man and a woman.  And Professor Cott and other experts even destroyed that argument.  Even so, it’s a bit like saying that some people were always forced to live in a certain place so they should always be forced to live there.

We launched Testimony: Equality on Trial because this court case has already changed history.  As we can see from the Judge’s questions – read them and pick your own favorites–the entire scope of the debate has been encapsulated in this trial.  But the defense has worked at every juncture to stop you from seeing what happened and will happen in the courtroom.  We seek to make this your trial.  And soon, we’ll seek to hear your testimony.

For now, as voting for initiatives and candidates across the state and country winds to a close, we can see unfolding the true story of human rights in America.  

Watch the court. Whatever the ruling, this trial is history.

UPDATE:  You can join us for a Courage Campaign Conversation with Ted Olson Wednesday at 6::00PM PDT to learn more.

Day 9 of the NUHW trial: Sal in the Hot Seat

Attorneys representing the 150,000 California healthcare workers represented by SEIU-UHW against Sal Rosselli and NUHW did such a great job laying a solid foundation for our case that it has the lawyers for Rosselli and the 27 other alleged conspirators scrambling for cover. It seems like the only highlight of the day for them is 12:59 pm, when the trial ends for the day. Earlier this week, I overheard a conversation in the hallway where one of their staffers mentioned how the plaintiff’s allotted time was running short, while Rosselli, Borsos and others had over three hundred more minutes than us (each side was given 18 hours to put on their case). As of today however, only ninety minutes separate the two sides, and they still have over twenty more defendants to take the stand in their defense. Add to that, an array of “character witnesses” made up of politicians whose campaigns have at one time or another benefited from Sal and company. 😉

Sal In The Hot Seat

If Rosselli took comfort in his lawyer’s soft and cozy direct examination, Mr. Kohlman gave him a rude awakening. With the very first question he began to grill the witness.

Yesterday, when asked why contract extensions at several nursing homes were canceled just days before the trusteeship, he replied that he had no knowledge that defendant Vellardita did that. He went on to acknowledge that the trustee had the legal authority to access the union’s offices and assets in order to service the members. He also acknowledged the duties and responsibilities he had to uphold the constitutions of UHW and SEIU. Among those duties were not just to comply with the decision of the International Executive Board, but to also ensure an orderly transition of authority to the trustees. He failed in both these instances. From the stand he admitted that while he was aware of the mob attacks on the offices in Alameda and LA, and that they were led by members of his senior staff, he did nothing. He also admitted that he was aware that members and staff were squatting overnight at UHW offices throughout the state and that they had chained and padlocked the doors shut (fire hazard), but he did nothing. And that he knew those inside were given the deed to the offices and expenses for these “sleepovers” were paid by our dues monies, he still did nothing. Nothing was more disturbing to hear than when he was asked if it was inappropriate for union officers or employees to keep our personal information in databases outside of our union, and he said “…hmm, I’m not sure about that.”

Go Gary Go!

Once again today , Kohlman delivered. Yesterday Rosselli testified that he knew what was going on, and today he couldn’t seem to recall much – he can’t remember meetings, memos, lists, phone calls, people, places or things. He wasn’t sure if he got a memo from Laura Kurrie instructing senior staff on talking points for the bogus outside fund they put $3 million of our money into (the PEF) in case the International asked. He wasn’t sure what John Borsos would tell a crowd of hand-picked members in a January 24, 2009 mega meeting. Heck, he couldn’t recall how the members at those meetings were selected to attend (they were assessed as loyal to him and most receptive to his message.) He can’t recall who ordered the UHW data base to be scrambled. He can’t recall what happened at a December 6, 2009 meeting he attended where work plans for creating a new union were being worked out. He can’t recall if his special assistant Dan Martin set up an office in his home with a computer system that could access the UHW mainframe without the IT department even knowing.

He can’t recall receiving an e-mail with an attachment that had a membership list of over 20,000 Kaiser workers, but remembers not opening it. He can’t recall if he read a letter to SEIU President Andy Stern trying to reach out and resolve differences. Clearly, this witness was very uncomfortable today; he fidgeted in his chair and coughed after every question as if trying to buy time to find some answer.

“Stay The F*** Out!”

When he first approached the stand, former union rep from the hospital division, Andy Reid, looked like a boy scout from a time long gone by. He spoke of the ideals and passion that brought him to UHW, collaborative efforts, and how the union is bigger than any one person. But that didn’t last long. When confronted with a memo he received from Barbara Lewis telling him to instruct stewards to tell new incoming staff to “Get the F*** out!” his demons just had to come out. In a loud voice for the judge, jury and all to hear, he blurted out “They should get the F*** out of my hospital!!!” He then explained how he recruited followers to sleep at the San Jose office to resist the trusteeship.

NUHW Witness Verifies Key SEIU Testimony

She must have thought she was being slick or just plain cute, but Beverly Griffith only ended up corroborating a key element of the SEIU case. The former steward from Alta Bates in Oakland and as of today, an NUHW staff member, testified how she “led” the mob of 50-60 rioters that attacked the Alameda SEIU office on January 20, 2009. When they were greeted at the door by the security guard, she told them “We’re coming in!” Then she and the others started to push their way in. She acknowledged the guard being shoved to the ground as the mob made its way in, “I just jumped over him” Griffith told the jury. She then began to “have conversations” with the workers, ordering them to “Go back to Washington D.C. (even though most were not from D.C.), you opened a Pandora’s box and it will not close!” As Rasheda Anthony told last week how defendant Goldstein tried to snatch confidential documents out of her hand, and defendant Krystal shoved her into a desk, Griffith, testified that they were present at the altercation. She also told the jury how this was not the first time she was violent at union activities.

SEIU-UHW vs. Sal Rosselli and 24 other NUHW officials – Federal Court in San Francisco Day 7

NUHW Wants Stewards To Collect Back Dues:

In finishing up his cross examination of UHW Finance Director, Edgard Cajina, NUHW attorney asked why UHW is seeking damages for lost dues from NUHW when the dues are ultimately owed by the workers. Mr. Cajina explained that the cost involved of taking action to collect dues from individual members would be greater than the amount collected and that it would not be feasible. As if it were not enough to ask that the union sue individual members, Mr. Siegel went as far as to suggest that shop stewards should go around their facilities collecting money from their co-workers.

“Don’t Spend Time With the Members:”

We heard testimony from more UHW staff members that were told to turn out members to meetings, create lists with our confidential information, and teach members how to be confrontational. Abby Reeve explained how working for defendant Barbara Lewis she could  dedicate only 30% of her time to representing members at grievances and bargaining. May Ann Durazo from the Homecare Division was invited by defendant Gabe Krystal to attend a “secret meeting” in early January 2009 where Rosselli was to speak about a “great plan.” But she started to ask questions, and the defendants didn’t like that so they withdrew their invitation.

Durazo continued to say how in early January 2009, she found herself dedicating most of her time (90%) to charting facilities, handing out flyers, and encouraging members to turn out for meetings,  versus only 10% doing actual representational work like processing grievances. When she expressed concern to her division director, defendant Vellardita, he told her, “Don’t spend time with the members.” Alex Espinoza from the hospital division added to this pattern when he told the jury how he too found himself representing members less and representing the interests of Sal more. He went on to say how a couple days before the trusteeship, and after the attack on the LA office where a mob stole confidential documents, defendant Lewis confronted him about information coming her way where he was “assessed as a 1,” meaning he had been labeled an SEIU supporter. Lewis then quizzed him about his employment plans after a trusteeship. Not making any accusations how this information came her way, but read yesterday’s post about witness (Nancy Stengel’s) testimony about the raid on the L.A. SEIU office and who they gave stolen documents to.

Lynn Templeton an operations coordinator at the Oakland office told how defendant Phyllis Willett told her to figure out the costs of buying the cell phones we mentioned yesterday. She continued to say how at Willet’s instruction she was to alter the contract for these phones so they would be purchased by the Patient Education Fund (the bogus fund set up by the defendant’s with $3 million of our dues money) not SEIU-UHW. In her testimony, she also told how Willett told her to remove from her office documents relating to the PEF.

Philip Rodokanakis, an expert in the field of computer forensics, recounted his analysis of the computer used by John Borsos. He determined that there were “many irregularities.” Of 5,700 e-mails that were “double deleted” he was able to recover 3,000. In the computer used by Fred Seavey he discovered that the user registry file was missing, also gone were event logs and Windows was (re)installed in February 2009. The biggest surprise was the discovery of a document he named “NUHW Staff List.” This document was created on January 21, 2009, six days before trusteeship when Seavey was still employed by SEIU-UHW. For the past week the defense has maintained that they were just expressing opposition to the International’s decision to move 65,000 long term care workers out of UHW and the trusteeship that followed their refusal, but this demonstrates how they were already working to undermine the union they worked for and betray us, the members.

Dumbest Question of the Day;

While cross examining Mr. Cajina, a native of Nicaragua, NUHW attorney Jose Luis Fuentes asked him, “Did you know Daniel Ortega?” FYI..Ortega is the current president of Nicaragua and also served in that capacity from 1985-1990.

Democracy on Trial: My view on SEIU’s lawsuit against our union

This blog post originally appeared on the Huffington Post

My name is Shirley Nelson. I work as Certified Nursing Assistant and I have been a caregiver at Kaiser Redwood City Hospital for 42 years.

I would like to thank the community of readers here at Calitics for providing me an opportunity to share my point of view about SEIU’s civil lawsuit against 26 union reformers.

They say every coin has two sides, well, so does every case in court

Shirley Nelson, Kaiser Redwood City

To begin with, I want talk about the union I used to be an elected leader of before Andy Stern removed me and 85 other union members from office.

UHW was, by all measures, a successful union. We bargained strong, industry-leading contracts. We represented our members effectively. We organized non-union workers to join our union. We trained our stewards diligently. If you ask anyone in the labor movement who knows our history, they will tell you that we served our members well. In fact, our union was an example for the rest of the labor movement of the kind of power that a member-led union can win for its members.

All that has changed since SEIU took over UHW. While UHW was a member-led union, SEIU is an employer-friendly union.


In just one year of trusteeship, SEIU has given away the lump sum payout pension option for Kaiser employees without a vote, bargained away family health benefits at Alameda Hospital, forced Sutter employees into a substandard health plan and given away $10.5 million at the bargaining table to Daughters of Charity directly from union members’ pockets. Those giveaways are the result of SEIU’s employer-friendly approach to bargaining.

Directly out of our disagreement with SEIU and their takeover of our union, we have built a new, democratic union called NUHW, the National Union of Healthcare Workers. Since we took that step, however, SEIU has pursued what even Judge Alsup has called a “greedy” and “vastly overreaching” legal strategy against the union reformers who organized to prevent SEIU’s takeover and went on to form NUHW.

That is the real background to SEIU’s civil lawsuit.


When their lawsuit began, SEIU’s lawyers were asking for $25 million in damages from the defendants. After one week in court, they have abandoned 80% of their claims. For example, over the last year SEIU has smeared the defendants with false claims of:

-taking $3 million from UHW’s strike fund

-“Sabotaging” bargaining and grievances

-“Leaving contracts open” at hospitals so workers could vote to choose their union

-Misusing UHW lists and information to help Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital workers and Fresno homecare workers file for elections

SEIU has backed down from every one of those claims when asked to prove them in court.

It is clear that SEIU’s lawyers understand, and want to hide from the jury, that the vast majority of the members of our union disagreed with Andy Stern. It’s also clear that SEIU knows full well that no funds from our former union were used to build NUHW. Every witness they have put on the stand including SEIU officials Eliseo Medina, Mary Kay Henry and Leon Chow have testified to that.

As SEIU has called each key witness in the trial, the judge has been perplexed as to what SEIU thought the testimony was proving. The judge has said over and over that it is completely appropriate to try to prevent the trusteeship of a local union.


As I sit in court and hear the testimony of the current SEIU-UHW staff members, I am also deeply struck and saddened by the gross incompetence and lack of even basic familiarity with the fundamentals of representing union members they demonstrate. The staff SEIU’s trustees have hired to run my former union have shown themselves to be unfamiliar with the very basics of filing grievances and bargaining contracts. They have also demonstrated a glaring lack of common sense. I say this not only as a union steward but as someone who has trained stewards and bargained contracts for over two decades.

Finally, it has also struck me the manner in which SEIU’s trustees personally attack the former elected leaders of SEIU-UHW like Sal Rosselli and John Borsos. I think I can offer a valuable perspective here, since I was a member and leader of the union before either of them arrived.

I have always known Sal and John to put the members first and to conduct themselves in a deeply ethical manner. That has been our tradition; and that’s why we elected them. That commitment is the founding principle of the new union we are building together, NUHW.

To read more union member voices and get facts about the trial, please visit NUHW.org/trial.

Shirley Nelson, CNA, Kaiser Redwood City

{Shirley Nelson, Certified Nursing Assistant, has been a caregiver at Kaiser Redwood City Hospital for 42 years.  Elected by her co-workers, she served on the Executive Board of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West until she, and 85 other rank and file members of the board who served with her, were removed by SEIU International in January of 2009. She currently serves on the Executive Board of a new, member-led union in California, the National Union of Healthcare Workers.}


{NUHW, the National Union of Healthcare Workers, is a vibrant and democratic movement of healthcare workers, dedicated to dignity, justice, and healthcare for all. NUHW Voice features blog posts by workers from NUHW’s Our Voices page. You can follow NUHW on Facebook and Twitter.}

Day 4 at the SEIU-UHW/NUHW Trial: “Shakers and Makers”

Shakers & Makers – this was the name of a covert group of senior staffers in the Homecare Division that was formed in 2008 for the purpose of creating lists and planning for a possible trusteeship. Leon Chow, a one time member of this group, told the jury how he was recruited to identify and build a group of leaders to fight SEIU. At defendant John Vellardita’s direction, the group compiled a list of homecare workers and distributed it to select loyal followers who would use them to phone bank members…from their homes. This was a change in past practice when phone banking was done in the union hall and members’ personal informational was closely guarded.

The S&M group communicated through private e-mail accounts so no record of subversive activities would be on the UHW server. After “loyal” member followers were identified, Mr. Chow was instructed to perform a 1:1 assessment to confirm their loyalty to the defendant Sal Rosselli. These assessments were NOT to be turned over to clerical staff at UHW so that the assessments would not be entered in the UHW database.

At Vellardeta’s instruction, UHW staff members who were in Shakers & Makers were not to “expense” their out-of-pocket costs for this group’s activities. They were furthermore instructed to not enter their S&M participation in their weekly activity reports. So covert were the activities of this group that in preparation for a meeting on January 19, 2009 (a week before trusteeship) Vellardita instructed members who were driving to a meeting that day to not leave directly from the union’s Oakland office just in case they were under surveillance. Mr. Chow went on to testify that in a January 10, 2009 senior staff meeting, Rosselli brought forth the issue of “disaffiliation” from SEIU. A template for a disaffiliation petition was presented at this meeting. Rosselli did acknowledge that it would be improper for officers of the union to raise this issue, so, wink, wink, it would have to come from rank & file members. Mr. Chow will be testifying more about that tomorrow…guess what followed?

In other testimony, Lisa Gude, who was trying to negotiate nursing home contracts after the trusteeship was imposed, found it difficult to find necessary bargaining notes and other documents. Only after a court ordered him to do so did Mark Kipfer, her predecessor and a defendant in the case, return the necessary files. Jackie Peppars, a member from Fresno homecare, told how she and other members were encouraged to stop their COPE contributions. Kevin Hall, her former union rep, gave her a list of members to contact from home. Ms. Peppars told the jury how “something did not feel right” so she stopped calling halfway thru. That’s when she knew something was wrong.

The courtroom saw video footage of large audience meeting in Sacramento where the audience was mesmerized. This seemed painful for some in the room to watch. Perhaps it was a reminder of other “false leaders” who have led people down dangerous paths.

NUHW/SEIU-UHW Trial: “Even Angels Cannot Steal”

Once again, Mr. Dan Siegel, counsel for the defendants, attempted to sidetrack the trial and go into areas that he had been previously told were not to go into. Talking about the trusteeship….BAD. Again Judge William Alsup quickly reigned him in and instructed the jury that what is not at hand were the merits of the trusteeship. “Even if the defendants were the angels and the plaintiffs were the devils…it does not matter because even angels cannot steal,” the judge said, because the issue in front of the jury  is whether the defendants stole union property and assets and sabotaged UHW while on its payroll.

Oriana Saportas, a UHW organizer, explained to the jury that just before trusteeship, workers at Santa Rosa Memorial who had been trying to organize were told about an “island option” as a choice in their bid to become a union hospital. The implication is that the “island option” was code for a new union. Oriana Saportas, an organizer on that campaign, told the jury of meetings that happened where this was brought up. The meeting was attended by defendant Glenn Goldstein. She went on to say how defendant Peter Tappeiner, to whom she reported, instructed her to back up membership and campaign files from the union’s computer into an external drive. At some point he also instructed her to go to Kinko’s and Xerox all the worker “contact sheets.”

On the stand today were two shop stewards, Denny Henriques from Sutter Delta and Jenny Edney from Kaiser Vallejo. They both told how prior to trusteeship the former leaders, now defendants, instructed them “not to engage” any new union staff that may come into their facilities after the trusteeship. Prior to the trusteeship, they were given “decertification petitions” and told to gather signatures using membership lists provided for them by a defendant

Labor Trial: “It’s about rules being broken.”

“It’s about rules being broken.” As simple as that statement may be, it encapsulates what this case is about. With that, Mr. Gary Kholman – lead attorney for UHW in our lawsuit against Sal Rosselli and the other officials who were kicked out of our union – painted for the jury a pattern of decisions the defendants made and the events that followed since the report by Leonard Page in August 2008 recommending that 65,000 long term care workers be removed out of Sal Rosselli’s jurisdiction and into a Local of their own within SEIU.

Knowing that not abiding by the decision of the International would jeopardize their power, the defendants started to hold secret meetings to plot, Kohlman said in his opening argument.  Kohlman outlined different steps in the misuse of the union’s funds, including the presentation of a knowingly false defense to the trusteeship when it came to their reasons for creating the PEF (“Patient Education Fund”). The defendants also scrambled the membership database, began looking for “offsite” office space, and improperly tapped into the union’s computer system so they could access it from their homes and bypass the union’s IT department. In September 2008, they started to formulate a cover up, and a plan to make the Local “ungovernable.” At the same time, field reps were instructed – rather than represent members – to develop networks of stewards and other loyal followers that would circulate decertification/disaffiliation petitions.

Days prior to trusteeship in late January 2009 they hired a security firm to specifically keep the International staff out, encouraged stewards to continue circulating decertification petitions and recruited members to chain themselves to the offices and prevent an orderly transfer of authority. On January 28, 2009 barely one day after the defendants were relieved of the top positions they once held, they announced the formation of NUHW.

In his opening argument for the defense, Mr. Siegel tried to argue the merits of the trusteeship, something that earned him Judge Alsup’s admonishment…again. He then said Rosselli was motivated by his concern of protecting patient care and how UHW grew to 150,000 during his tenure. He went on to say that Rosselli/Borsos returned all but $150,000 of the $3M to the general fund, while SEIU only wants dues money…In other words, his clients’ actions were justified cause the “boogeyman” was out to get them. When he spoke of the new union NUHW, he admitted, that the name was not by accident, because they want members to think the new union is like the old union…even though it’s nothing close.

In his testimony as the first witness, Hal Ruddick explained to the jury how after the 2005 Colcord case where three former union staff tried to form another union while they were still employed by UHW, all employees and officers had to sign confidentiality agreements. He went on to tell how he and other incoming staff were unable to access the offices or find important files needed to represent members. When he first came out immediately after the trusteeship, Mr. Ruddick was staying in a hotel nearby and came back from work one evening only to find a threatening flier under his room door.

Quite disturbing was testimony of Latasha Winslow-Beavers, who was an organizer in the Kaiser Division. She told the jury how just prior to trusteeship she found herself directed by her superiors to dedicate her efforts to creating a “Rapid Response Team” that could be called at a moment’s notice to keep the International out! Only 30% of her time was to be for actual member representation. After trusteeship, she returned to work at Kaiser as a member where she was harassed by her former UHW director, defendant Jason Johnson.

Jury set in SEIU-UHW / NUHW Trial

As courthouses go, the Federal one in San Francisco is quite majestic, black & white photos adorn the marble walls. Here is where over 150,000 healthcare workers throughout California seek long due justice. Here is where the former leaders of SEUI-UHW will start to make themselves accountable for the alleged acts they committed prior to their removal from power.

To proceed, one must understand what this case is and is not about. This case is to answer the following questions. 1) Did the Sal Roseli, John Borsos, NUHW and other defendants sabotage the union by purposely trying to create an “ungovernable situation?”  2) Did the defendants misuse members’ dues money to start a new union while they were still employed by UHW. 3) In laying the groundwork for the new union, did the defendants fail to negotiate contracts and rescind contract extensions, leaving members at risk. 4) Did the defendants betray their fiduciary duties to the union, while they were STILL officers or employed by SEIU-UHW? What this case is NOT about, is a rehash of whether the trusteeship was good or bad, right or wrong. Sal, John and their followers do not get to come to court and try to paint themselves like some kind of “Robin Hood.” This much Judge Alsup made crystal clear.

As I was sitting in the gallery watching Day 1 of case # 2090400 SEIU v Sal Roselli, et al, a few thoughts came to mind. First, this judge is a straight shooter who will take no nonsense from either party. The outcome rests in the verdict of a jury that  represents the community quite well. In it are students, bankers, and engineers that range from early 20’s to mid 60’s in age. I have faith that they will decide the outcome based on the merits of the arguments, the evidence, and the application of the law. It’s about the facts, just the facts.

Prop 8 supporters trying to delay trial and NOM thinks they’re going to lose

The federal trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger is supposed to start on Monday and Judge Walker has ruled to allow delayed YouTube posting of video. But earlier today the defendants (Prop 8 supporters) filed an emergency petition with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to stop the trial and overturn Walkers’ ruling on YouTube. Merc:

In court papers, lawyers for the Prop. 8 campaign argue that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker did not have the legal authority to permit cameras in the trial, which is set to begin Monday in San Francisco. Prop 8 backers say that broadcasting the proceedings “is likely to negatively affect the fairness of the trial.”

The plaintiffs had until 3 PM today to respond.  This is all likely to move pretty quickly, given that the trial is supposed to start the next business day.

Meanwhile, NOM thinks they are going to lose the case.

Over the last few days they have been clearly communicating to their email list that Judge Walker is not friendly to them and now are blatantly saying they expect to lose the trial.

Brian Brown just sent out an email to NOM’s list.  Karen Occam has part of it up at LGBT POV. Brown writes:

We do not expect to win at the trial level, but with God’s help, at least five members of the current Supreme Court will have the courage to defend our Constitution from this grave attack.

Their major complaint is that Judge Walker has made this a full-blown trial, complete with witnesses and a broad set of issues under consideration.  It will be a full and complete vetting of the issues, motivations and law surrounding marriage and equality for all.

This is perhaps my favorite part of Brown’s massive missive:

That’s right, the Constitution drafted by our Founding Fathers contains a right to gay marriage–in their twisted view. This is judicial activism on steroids, and a flagrant disrespect for civility, common sense, and democracy.

Gay-marriage advocates believe they have a right to win. They think you and I don’t count. NOM will be filing an amicus brief in this litigation, and will work with Protect Marriage and the lawyers for Prop 8 in every way we are asked.

My Mr. Brown your real feelings about marriage equality supporters seems to have slipped out.  Usually you are so nice and polite, but now we are “twisted”?  Would that be your bigoted side, showing about how you really feel about LGBTs?

So a legal trial, where there is lots of structure, procedure and rules is now disrespectful, uncivil, lacks common sense and is undemocratic?  Pardon me while I laugh.

Yes, we do believe we have a right to win a court case. The judicial system  creates winners and losers, shocker I know…

It isn’t that we think you don’t count, it’s just that we think there are three branches of government with checks and balances on the other two.  The judicial system has a role to play in determining the constitutionality of both federal and state law.  That’s exactly what will happen in the courtroom (with some luck) on Monday.

This trial is going to be full of drama.  I’m very much looking forward to it.  I know I’ve been a bit of a slacker about blogging as of late, but expect some more writing from me over the next few weeks about the trial.

Help emptywheel and d-day Cover the Prop 8 Trial

As you are no doubt aware, starting on Monday, a Federal Court in San Francisco will review the California Supreme Court decision to uphold the infamous Proposition 8.

This trial will be one of the most important civil rights cases in a generation, in which Bush/Gore 2000 adversaries David Boies and Ted Olson team up to defeat California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriages. We don’t want to miss it.

Firedoglake wants to bring Scooter-Libby-trial style reporting to San Francisco’s Federal Courthouse.  We have a California team — David Dayen arrives from Los Angeles this weekend and I’ll provide commentary and video interviews — and will welcome Libby liveblogger Marcy Wheeler later in the week.

But we need your help to do it.

We want to bring some interpid Firedoglake bloggers and reporters to cover the Prop 8 trial, but we need your help to make it happen. Can you help us reach our goal of 3,000 people donating $1 a day or more to help us cover the Prop 8 trial?

Click here to donate $1 a day or more to fund Firedoglake and our coverage of the Prop 8 trial.

FDL has grown a lot since we covered the Scooter Libby trial in 2006, and we now have an incredible group of full time writers and reporters like Jon Walker and David Dayen, in addition to our superb editing and tech crew. But that means the cost of publishing the blog on a daily basis has also increased dramatically.

If 3,000 people donate just $1 a day, it allows us to pay our staff and our regular expenses and continue to produce independent journalism that is free from the limitations imposed by corporate, foundation or big donor funding.

Perry vs Schwarzenegger will set an important precedent in civil rights cases of this kind, and represents an opportunity to continue the same kind of unbridled, independent journalism that you can’t get from the mainstream media.

The trial starts on Monday. Can you donate $1 a day to help us bring David Dayen and Marcy Wheeler to cover this historic trial?

Help us bring the Prop 8 trial to the FDL community. Click here and pledge $1 a day or more to Firedoglake.

Donations have been instrumental in bringing us this far, and we need your help to keep the momentum going. Please join us and pledge your monthly donation to FDL today.  Thank you for your support.