6 Outrageous Times VA Employees Did Wrong and Still Got Paid by You

Melissa Quinn /

The Department of Veterans Affairs remains embroiled in a scandal that resulted in the deaths of at least 40 veterans assigned to its medical facilities. Now, a report from Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., outlines the actions of numerous VA employees who were suspended for various offenses but continued to get a salary from taxpayers.

Coburn today released his annual Wastebook, which highlights “frivolous” projects backed by taxpayer dollars.

This year’s edition notes that taxpayers shelled out $19 million in compensation for government employees placed on administrative leave for a variety of transgressions.

When on administrative leave, Coburn writes, these federal workers are “essentially relieved of their duties including having to report to work or do work” but receive pay and benefits such as health insurance, life insurance and retirement.

The Oklahoma Republican points to 12 specific instances in which government workers were found to have engaged in “unacceptable and sometimes criminal conduct” yet continue to receive paychecks.

>>> Five Factors from the New CBO Report on Veterans’ Healthcare

Half of the examples involve VA employees:

1. Executives at VA clinics nationwide were found to have manipulated wait times for patients to secure bonuses.

Officials attempted to cover up months-long wait times encountered by many veterans before seeing doctors at the VA. More than 40 veterans at one clinic died during such manipulation.

Three officials at a VA clinic in Phoenix–including the director and associate director–were put on paid administrative leave in May as a result of the scandal. The director makes $170,000 a year.

2. A VA drug addiction treatment specialist brought a patient to a crack house and helped him pick up a prostitute.

An employee of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System in Montgomery, Ala., helped the patient, who was being treated for addiction, obtain illegal drugs and solicit a prostitute.

Besides exposing the veteran to a “dangerous environment” in March 2013, an investigation found the worker guilty of “patient abuse, misuse of government vehicles, filing false overtime requests and multiple ethics violations.”

>>> VA Spent Millions on Solar Panels as Veterans Awaited Care

3. Top VA officials in Alabama falsified appointment records.

The director of the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System oversaw a clinic that was rife with corruption, including falsifying appointment records and neglecting to read “hundreds of X-rays.”

Director James Talton and the  clinic’s chief of staff were put on paid administrative leave in August. Talton said employees who falsified records were fired, but actually they were “relieved of their duties” and continue to collect a government salary.

4. A “rehab specialist” for VA was indicted for homicide after a fatal car crash while driving drunk.

Also at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Center System, a vocational rehabilitation specialist in the mental health department caused a fatal car crash last year while driving drunk.

A grand jury indicted the worker in September for homicide by motor vehicle when a passenger died. The employee was off duty at the time, but his job requires him to operate a government vehicle. His case was sent to human resources, but as of last month he continued to work at the center.

5. A VA employee was charged with sexual assault.

An employee of the VA Southeast Network who worked in Tuskegee, Ala., was placed on administrative leave after he was charged with first-degree sexual abuse of a female patient in an incident in which he fondled the veteran’s breast.

His attorney delayed a preliminary hearing twice, but it was held in August. He will face charges only if indicted by a grand jury that meets next year, the Wastebook says.

>>> Veterans Warily Welcome Action in Congress to Cure VA’s Ills

6. A VA employee sent lewd messages from government computers, misused a government credit card, and unnecessarily traveled up and down the East Coast.

A February report details the “out of control” behavior of  a VA worker in Nashville who was put on paid leave in March. He resigned in July.

He was found to have sent sexually explicit messages to friends using VA computers, taken 34 trips to Washington, D.C., as well as Florida and New Jersey, and “worked at his own time and pace.” His travel cost taxpayers $109,000.

He also used a “government travel charge card” to:

From Africa to the US: Ebola in One Timeline - Daily Signal

From Africa to the US: Ebola in One Timeline

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann /

President Obama calls the Ebola virus a “serious disease.” The World Health Organization classifies the outbreak an “international health emergency.” Below are the facts, tracking the spread of the West African epidemic to the United States.

>>> Use the arrows to advance or jump to an event using the scrollbar at the bottom.

Attack in Ottawa: Facts Remain Scarce But Reality of Security Threat Remains - Daily Signal

Attack in Ottawa: Facts Remain Scarce But Reality of Security Threat Remains

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra /

Gunshots rang out at multiple locations across Ottawa this morning, including at the War Memorial and in the Parliament buildings. Much is unknown at the moment and the operation is ongoing.

As of right now, police are reporting that one Canadian soldier, who was guarding the tomb of the unknown soldier at the War Memorial, has died. Other minor injuries have been reported as well.

Additionally, one male suspect is confirmed dead, killed in a shootout inside the halls of Parliament. At the moment, police are searching for additional shooters. Much of Ottawa remains locked down and military bases and other public facilities across Canada are also being closed to the public.

It remains unclear what the motive of this attack is. In recent days, an individual with known radical Islamist sympathies killed one military member in a hit and run attack in Quebec and injured another before being killed by police officers.

Additionally, a spokesperson for Public Safety Canada said that the security threat level in Canada had been raised in the days prior to these events based on “an increase in general chatter from radial Islamist organizations like ISIS, Al Qaida, Al Shabaab and other who pose a clear threat to Canadians.” That said, there is no concrete evidence at the time of this writing that links this shooting in Ottawa to any Islamist terrorism.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of the soldier who has been killed as well as all who have been affected by this attack, including law enforcement officers who continue to remain on the lookout for other potential shooters.

While it is too early to know much definitively about this attack, it is important to keep in mind that the U.S. and Canada face similar threats, based on our shared geography, close alliance and cooperation on security and foreign policy issues and open societies. A threat within Canada could easily be a threat to the U.S. and vice versa.

Moving forward, the U.S. and Canada must continue to build their security and intelligence cooperation. The U.S. and Canada conducted a broad border threat assessment in 2010 and as part of the Beyond the Border program starting in 2011, Canada and the U.S. agreed to work on broader “joint intelligence assessments and strengthened analytic collaboration to enhance our shared understanding of the threats our countries face.” It is unclear how far these assessments went but this incident in Ottawa should redouble both our nations’ efforts to share threat information and conduct comprehensive and regularly updated threat assessments.

Majority of Delawareans Support Education Savings Accounts - Daily Signal

Majority of Delawareans Support Education Savings Accounts

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt /

A majority of Delawareans support education savings accounts (ESAs), according to a new study released by The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice.

The study used a randomly selected sample of Delaware voters to measure public opinion on a variety of education-related issues, including the direction of K–12 education, education spending, school choice options, and standardized testing.

It found 50 percent of Delaware voters think that K–12 education is on the “wrong track,” while only 35 percent believe it is headed in the “right direction.” Most notable is the high support for education savings accounts.

According to the survey, “[N]early six out of 10 Delawareans (59 percent) said they support an ‘education savings account’ system.” The Friedman Foundation’s national Schooling in America Survey, released in June, yielded similar results, finding that 56 percent of Americans supported ESAs.

Arizona’s ESA Success

First signed into law in Arizona in 2011, ESAs enable parents to fully customize their child’s education with 90 percent of the state per-pupil funding that would have gone to their child in the public school. An ESA works like an education “debit card.” With this debit card, parents can tailor their child’s education to their child’s unique learning needs using a variety of preapproved services and providers, including private tutoring, textbooks, curricula, individual public school courses, online learning, and education therapies. Parents can even roll unused funds into a college savings account.

ESAs have been so successful in Arizona that the program has been expanded three times to include children with special needs, children from underperforming schools, children of active-duty military families, children in foster care, children of fallen soldiers, and incoming kindergarteners.

Florida

Florida became the second state to adopt ESAs in June, called Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts (PLSA) by the Sunshine State. Four months into operation, Florida’s PLSA program has more than 3,000 applicants and has distributed more than 1,000 scholarships.

Could Delaware Be Next?

In June, lawmakers in Delaware proposed an ESA option, the “Parent Empowerment Education Savings Account Act.” Allowable uses of the funds would include private school tuition and fees, textbooks, private tutors, curricula, online learning tuition, Advanced Placement exams, and special needs services and therapies.

“I think parents need to know that there is a way for them to have more control over their child’s education, and right now they don’t have that option,” stated House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, a sponsor of the proposal.

Delawareans are already looking for alternatives within the public system. According to the Foundation for Excellence in Education senior fellow Matthew Ladner, Delaware’s charter school sector is in demand. “Delaware charter schools have been heading towards a 10 percent [share] of the market as well, and many Delaware charter schools have waiting lists,” writes Ladner.

Friedman’s study suggests that Delawareans—like most Americans— are not happy with the current direction of the K–12 system. They are looking for new options.

A Different Vision

With public education becoming increasingly homogenized—now through efforts to centralize education content by Common Core education standards—school choice represents a different vision of K–12 education. ESAs are the next generation of school choice, creating customizable, student-centered education options for children in Delaware and in any other state that wants to be at the forefront of school choice 2.0.

The Good News About Ebola - Daily Signal

The Good News About Ebola

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott /

As public health officials here and abroad take steps to cope with the Ebola virus disease outbreak, there are a few pieces of good news that merit highlighting.

Nigeria declared Ebola-free. The World Health Organization declares an Ebola disease outbreak has ended within a country once 42 days have passed since the last day any person in that nation had contact with a confirmed or probable Ebola victim.

On Monday, Nigeria reached that mark, and the WHO now considers it free from Ebola transmission. (Of course, future events will determine whether it remains Ebola-free.) In announcing Nigeria’s Ebola-free status, the WHO commended the Nigerian government’s rapid establishment of an Ebola emergency operations center after the first Nigerian Ebola case was confirmed in July 2014.

According to Reuters, on July 20, Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian diplomat and a U.S. citizen, collapsed at the international airport in Lagos, Nigeria, the capital of Africa’s most populous country. Lagos alone has a population of more than 21 million. Sawyer was at first thought to have malaria and was taken to a Lagos hospital. Attending physicians quickly diagnosed him as having Ebola and prevented him from leaving, despite his demands to be set free, thereby preventing a possible serious outbreak. (Sawyer did infect several hospital workers before dying.)

The hospital promptly notified Nigerian government officials, who set up an isolation unit and called for international assistance. The WHO, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and UNICEF provided the government with expertise for outbreak investigation, risk assessment, clinical care and contact tracing.

The Nigerian government used an existing health surveillance system for polio to trace Sawyer’s contacts and employed mobile technology in partnership with the private sector to update contact lists. Similar to the Country’s polio tracing program public health officials made more than 18,000 house visits in connection to the 900 individuals deemed high-risk contacts. The Ebola operations manager in Nigeria for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said this contact tracing system was key to preventing the disease from spreading into communities where it would have been harder to control. Senegal, another West African country was also declared Ebola-free on Oct. 17. Senegal shares a 330 km border with the country Guinea, one of the most Ebola-affected countries in the region.

Spanish Nurse’s Aid Free of Ebola. On Tuesday, Spanish physicians treating Teresa Romero Ramos, the Spanish nurse’s aide who contracted Ebola after treating a virus-stricken patient in Madrid, determined she is free of the virus. Four separate tests found no indications of virus in her blood. Ramos, 44, was found to be infected after treating an Ebola-stricken missionary, who died in Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital on Sept. 25. Ms. Romero was treated with an experimental drug and with blood plasma taken from people who had survived Ebola.

Work Proceeding Quickly on Ebola Treatments and Vaccines. On Tuesday, Dr. Marie Paule Kieny, WHO assistant director for health systems and innovation, announced serum made from the blood of recovered Ebola patients could be available in Liberia within weeks. Dr. Kieny also indicated efforts have begun to get Ebola drugs and an Ebola vaccine ready for possible testing and use as early as January in the Ebola-stricken countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

“There are partnerships which are starting to be put in place to have capacity in the three countries to safely extract plasma and make preparation that can be used for the treatment of infective patients,” Dr. Kieny said. “The partnership which is moving the quickest will be in Liberia where we hope that in the coming weeks there will be facilities set up to collect the blood, treat the blood and be able to process it for use.”

In addition, testing on one vaccine has begun at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, and a trial for a second vaccine, initially developed in Canada, has started at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Silver Spring, Md., according to the WHO.

In conclusion, the efforts of governments and international organizations to combat Ebola may be starting to bear fruit–as shown by the apparent success of contact tracing in preventing a substantial Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, and the ongoing initiatives to develop Ebola treatments and vaccines.

Top 7 Wackiest Examples of Wasteful Government Spending from Wastebook 2014 - Daily Signal

Top 7 Wackiest Examples of Wasteful Government Spending from Wastebook 2014

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott / Spencer Woody /

Rabbit massages, laughing classes, and watching the grass grow–these are just a few examples of where your tax dollars went this year.

During a time when many families have made financial sacrifices to make ends meet, the federal government continues to spend. Washington politicians continue to claim their levels of spending are necessary and that they have cut all of the nonessential spending they could find.

However, this could not be farther from the truth. Heritage budget expert Romina Boccia explains:

Special interest pressures and a lack of congressional oversight and interest in eliminating poorly functioning government programs are partly responsible for wasteful spending. A Government Waste Commission could help to break through the status quo to consolidate duplicative programs and eliminate inappropriate spending and waste to better prioritize federal dollars.

The following is our list of the top 7 examples of wasteful government spending from Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s new “Wastebook 2014.”As our list shows, there are plenty of places to cut wasteful federal spending:

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1. The National Institute of Health’s Center for Alternative and Complimentary Medicine spent $387,000 to study the effects of Swedish massages on rabbits.

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2. The Department of Interior spent $10,000 to monitor the growth rate of saltmarsh grass. In other words, the government is paying people to watch grass grow. On the bright side, they have not started paying people to watch paint dry.

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3. The National Science Foundation has granted more than $200,000 to a research project that is trying to determine how and why Wikipedia is sexist. Wikipedia’s War on Woman?

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4. The National Institute of Health funded a study to see if mothers love dogs as much as they love kids. Regardless of the results, this experiment cost taxpayers $371,026.

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5. The federal government has granted $804,254 for the development of a smartphone game called “Kiddio: Food Fight.” The game is intended to teach parents how to convince their children to try and eat new healthier food choices.

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6. The National Endowment for the Humanities has provided $47,000 for undergraduate classes that teach students about laughing and humor.

lion treadmill

7.  The National Science Foundation spent $856,000 to teach mountain lions how to walk on treadmills as part of a research project whose aim was to better understand mountain lions’ instincts.

While some of these waste examples seem like a drop in the bucket, cutting wasteful spending is important to build momentum to tackle even more difficult and pressing issues, like entitlement spending.

Moreover, the national debt is currently $17.9 trillion–and growing. Waste reform is just one of many steps needed in order to bring down the national debt, and ensure a prosperous future for the next generation.

Liberals Most Likely to Defriend You on Facebook — and in Real Life - Daily Signal

Liberals Most Likely to Defriend You on Facebook — and in Real Life

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott / Spencer Woody / Kelsey Harkness /

If you’ve sensed over the years that your liberal friends are “unfriending” you on Facebook, you might be right.

A new Pew Research study concludes that “consistent liberals” are the most likely ideological group in America to block or defriend someone else because they disagree with that person’s politics.

“Roughly four-in-10 consistent liberals on Facebook have blocked or defriended someone because they disagreed with something that person posted about politics,”  write the authors of the study, titled “Political Polarization and Media Habits.”

Infographic by Pew Research Center

Infographic by Pew Research Center

“This compares with 31 percent of consistent conservatives and just 26 percent of all Facebook users who have done the same,” they add.

The analysis, released yesterday, is part of Pew’s yearlong effort to explain political polarization in America.

The study also finds that liberals are the most likely ideological group to end a personal friendship because of politics.

“Roughly a quarter (24 percent) have done so, compared with 16 percent of consistent conservatives and around 10 percent of those with more mixed political views,”   authors Amy Mitchell, Jeffrey Gottfried, Jocelyn Kiley and Katerina Eva Matsa write.

Despite the differences, there is some common ground. Both consistent liberals and consistent conservatives—which Pew says accounts for about 20 percent of the American public—are more likely to closely follow government and political news.

“[They] are more likely to drive political discussion—that is—others turn to them, they lead rather than listen, and they talk about politics more overall,” the study concludes.

Where liberals and conservatives get their news is diverse, although notably 47 percent of conservatives cite Fox News Channel as their main news source for government and politics. Liberals are more splintered, citing a variety of outlets including National Public Radio and the New York Times.

Today, the authors say, “it is virtually impossible to live in an ideological bubble [and] … many consistent conservatives and liberals hear dissenting political views in their everyday lives.”

So, if you fall into one of those “consistent” categories, defriending someone might not stop you from hearing the other side.  It might, however, satisfy something else.

The study, “Political Polarization and Media Habits,” is based on an online survey conducted earlier this year with 2,901 participants recruited in a telephone survey of 10,013 adults. For more findings, see the infographic and read the complete analysis here.

From Solyndra to Hanging Chads, Obama’s Ebola Czar Has Helped Cause More Crises Than He’s Solved - Daily Signal

From Solyndra to Hanging Chads, Obama’s Ebola Czar Has Helped Cause More Crises Than He’s Solved

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott / Spencer Woody / Kelsey Harkness / Jennifer Kerns /

In response to public outcry and overwhelmingly negative poll numbers regarding his handling of the Ebola outbreak, President Obama appointed an Ebola czar to coordinate America’s response to the crisis.

The problem is, the president’s new czar has caused more crises than he has solved.

As chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, Ron Klain was instrumental in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009—otherwise known as the “stimulus” program—a colossal failure that ended up costing American taxpayers $2.8 trillion. That’s trillion, with a “T.”

Klain’s name may be new to many across the United States, but those of us from California know it all too well because Klain is synonymous with another notorious name: Solyndra.

It was Klain who approved President Obama’s visit to the solar-panel maker in 2010, and it was Klain who authorized $575 million in federal loan guarantees to the California firm that went bankrupt just months after receiving those stimulus funds.

By September 2011, Solyndra had blown through its stimulus cash and was raided by the FBI. Over the next 12 months, the company’s top executives were investigated for fraud, tax evasion and fleecing the taxpayers.

Solyndra’s crisis cost Californians 1,100 jobs. More importantly, it proved devastating to  California’s economy, which had been counting on green energy investment to survive. The public failure killed all remaining confidence in California’s economy.

After Solyndra’s crash, Klain whistled past the graveyard by moving on to a job in the private sector.

Now that he’s been appointed as America’s Ebola czar, a few other ghosts from Klain’s past merit resurrection.

A liberal Democrat operative through-and-through, Klain served as chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore during the Clinton administration.

In 2000, while working for the Gore campaign, Klain served as a senior attorney for the presidential election recounts. Ultimately, the election matter was resolved in favor of George W. Bush, but not before Klain’s team divided America in a bitter, month-long legal battle.

Klain also served as chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno, who oversaw controversial responses to David Koresh and his compound in Waco, Texas; the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1996 Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta, in which security guard Richard Jewell was mistakenly named as the suspect. Her administration was so marked with scandal it became the brunt of jokes on “Saturday Night Live” when Will Ferrell portrayed a bumbling Janet Reno in numerous skits.

To be fair, Klain was only at DOJ from 1994 to 1995, but his experience with Reno and other high-level bureaucrats demonstrates the government incompetence to which he had a front row seat.

Given Klain’s career-long ties to the party of big government, you can bet your bottom taxpayer dollar that Klain’s response to the Ebola crisis will undoubtedly be the same: Throw money at the problem or invoke a government takeover of the problem.

As we in California witnessed with Solyndra and nearly every other issue that Klain touched, big government “solutions” at their best do nothing but put government bureaucrats in charge at great cost to taxpayers. At their worst, they serve to further crises and in rare cases, death.

As Obama grapples with a growing crisis of confidence over his leadership two weeks from the 2014 midterms, that is the one thing he can least afford.

China’s Slowdown Not Good for the Global Economy or the U.S. - Daily Signal

China’s Slowdown Not Good for the Global Economy or the U.S.

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott / Spencer Woody / Kelsey Harkness / Jennifer Kerns / William Wilson /

China announced on Tuesday that third quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth had slowed to 7.3 percent, the slowest since the 2008–2009 global recession. This slowdown means that Beijing will most likely fail to meet its annual growth target of 7.5 percent for the first time since 1998. With the U.S. and China at odds over so many issues from elections in Hong Kong to freedom of the seas to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, it is tempting to cheer its ever-more-sobering economic environment. But China’s slowdown is not good for the global economy, which means it’s not good for the U.S.

According to the Financial Times, most alternative indicators of growth such as electricity consumption, credit expansion, and railway freight traffic have also been weak. Economists expect Chinese growth to continue slipping in the coming months. Growth would have been even slower without the economic stimulus package passed earlier in the year.

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The primary cause of the continued slowdown is the real estate market, which is now spreading to other sectors. Steel and cement production is falling along with the production of white goods (refrigerators, stoves, etc.). More ominously, the profits of private industrial enterprises collapsed in the third quarter, which will likely impact the shadow banking system for which it heavily lends.

While 7 percent growth would be coveted by most developing countries, China has long claimed that it needs 7 percent growth to create the 10 million jobs each year for its massive population.

China’s continued slowdown should be of major concern for much of the world, particularly if the slowdown accelerates. According to The Wall Street Journal, China’s contribution to global growth has more than tripled to 34 percent this decade from 10 percent in the 1990s. The U.S. contribution has fallen to 17 percent from 32 percent in the 1990s.

China is the world’s second largest importer and has strong trade links with many emerging economies, which have seen their average growth drop to 3 percent from 6 percent in 2010. China’s slowdown is the primary reason for the drop in commodity prices, including oil, which has fallen by more than 20 percent since last summer. Commodity producers Russia and Brazil are in recession. Australia’s economy has been struggling.

Much of China’s past growth has been fueled by rapid increases in debt that are not sustainable. The question then is what happens to global activity if China slows significantly. According to a recent J. P. Morgan analysis, every 1 percent slowdown in China’s growth reduces global growth by one-half of a percent, so a 2 percent slowdown would reduce an already jittery global economy by a full percentage point.

China’s broken state-led model of capitalism is in the early stages of getting its comeuppance, and when China sneezes, the rest of the world gets a cold.

 

Democrat-Appointed Federal Judge: No Right to Same-Sex Marriage - Daily Signal

Democrat-Appointed Federal Judge: No Right to Same-Sex Marriage

Melissa Quinn / Philip Wegmann / David Inserra / Chris McNutt / Alden Abbott / Spencer Woody / Kelsey Harkness / Jennifer Kerns / William Wilson / Ryan T. Anderson /

On Tuesday, United States District Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez upheld Puerto Rico’s law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. He concluded that the U.S. Constitution does not require the redefinition of marriage.

Notably, Pérez-Giménez becomes the first Democrat-appointee to the federal bench to uphold marriage law since the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision on the Defense of Marriage Act case.

And it is the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision that Pérez-Giménez highlights as to why states have constitutional authority to make marriage policy:

The Windsor opinion did not create a fundamental right to same gender marriage nor did it establish that state opposite-gender marriage regulations are amenable to federal constitutional challenges. If anything, Windsor stands for the opposite proposition: it reaffirms the States’ authority over marriage, buttressing Baker’s conclusion that marriage is simply not a federal question.

Pérez-Giménez goes on to cite Windsor: “the definition of marriage is the foundation of the State’s broader authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations with respect to the ‘protection of offspring, property interests, and the enforcement of marital responsibilities.’”

Juan Pérez-Giménez (Photo: Wikimedia)

Juan Pérez-Giménez (Photo: Wikimedia)

The judge also appeals to an earlier Supreme Court case, Baker v. Nelson, where the Court rejected a challenge to a state’s marriage law because, the Court said, the challenge lacked a “substantial federal question.” Pérez-Giménez explains:

Contrary to the plaintiffs’ contention, Windsor does not overturn Baker; rather, Windsor and Baker work in tandem to emphasize the States’ “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation” free from “federal intrusion.”

Pérez-Giménez, a federal district court judge, also points out that his Circuit Court has cited the authority of Baker: “The First Circuit expressly acknowledged—a mere two years ago—that Baker remains binding precedent ‘unless repudiated by subsequent Supreme Court precedent.’” And, the judge points out, he “cannot see how any ‘doctrinal developments’ at the Supreme Court change the outcome of Baker or permit a lower court to ignore it.”

Indeed, the judge has harsh words for other judges who have struck down state marriage laws: “It takes inexplicable contortions of the mind or perhaps even willful ignorance—this Court does not venture an answer here—to interpret Windsor’s endorsement of the state control of marriage as eliminating the state control of marriage.”

Just so. And if state marriage laws ever make it back to the Supreme Court, this is precisely what the Court should rule. Indeed, Pérez-Giménez highlights what other courts have frequently forgotten about the rationale underlying marriage laws:

Recent affirmances of same-gender marriage seem to suffer from a peculiar inability to recall the principles embodied in existing marriage law. Traditional marriage is “exclusively [an] opposite-sex institution . . . inextricably linked to procreation and biological kinship.” Traditional marriage is the fundamental unit of the political order. And ultimately the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.

Those are the well-tested, well-proven principles on which we have relied for centuries. The question now is whether judicial “wisdom” may contrive methods by which those solid principles can be circumvented or even discarded.

Pérez-Giménez thus concludes:

Baker, which necessarily decided that a state law defining marriage as a union between a man and woman does not violate the Fourteenth Amendment, remains good law. Because no right to same-gender marriage emanates from the Constitution, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico should not be compelled to recognize such unions. Instead, Puerto Rico, acting through its legislature, remains free to shape its own marriage policy. In a system of limited constitutional self-government such as ours, this is the prudent outcome.

As Pérez-Giménez points out, “The people and their elected representatives should debate the wisdom of redefining marriage. Judges should not.” Someone should let President Obama know.