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States brief ~ MI Senate passes resolutions to prevent same-sex benefits

[JURIST] Leading Thursday's states brief, the Michigan Senate [official website] voted to approve two resolutions today that would prevent taxpayer money from being spent on same-sex benefits until the state Supreme Court decides whether a lower court ruling allowing public universities and the government to provide same-sex benefits was correct. The lower court judge found that a constitutional amendment [PDF text] passed last year, recognizing only a union between a man and a woman as a marriage or "similar union for any purpose," did not prevent public universities and governments from providing same-sex benefits. Attorney General Mike Cox [official website] plans on appealing the decision, and Sen. Alan Cropsey believes that the status quo should be maintained until the Michigan Supreme Court has a chance to decide the case. The resolutions are symbolic and have no legal effect. AP has more.

In other state legal news ...

  • The Illinois Supreme Court ruled [text] today that it will no longer endorse challenges to the state's "15-20-25-to-life" law [text], which provides longer sentences for committing a crime with a gun. Chief Justice Bob Thomas, writing for the majority, said that the arguments that longer sentences are unfair because more serious crimes result in lighter sentences because they were not committed with a gun is not workable because it is not consistently applied. The decision deviated from 20 years of precedent. AP has more.

  • The Delaware Supreme Court has ruled [PDF text] that the identity of an anonymous blogger does not have to be revealed to Smyrna Councilman Patrick Cahill so that Cahill can pursue a libel claim against the person. The decision requires sufficient evidence of wrongdoing before a critic's identity can be given, and makes it difficult for plaintiffs with little chance of prevailing on the defamation claim to force disclosure of the blogger's identity. Chief Justice Myron T. Steele wrote, "We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously." The ruling overturned a lower court decision that required Comcast Cable Communications to reveal the blogger's identity. View the friend of the court brief filed by Public Citizen, the Electronic Frontier Foundation [website] and the ACLU here. Delaware's The News Journal has local coverage.

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