Who stood out on the Gay Marriage decision?

Doug Peterson 01Observing the various folk during the rollout of Judge Joe Bataillon’s Gay Marriage decision…

(Disclosure: I was a law clerk at the firm Judge Bataillon worked at until he took the bench in 1997. I was certainly friendly and worked on files with him during that time — though I haven’t spoken to him in years.)

First, it is really worth noting that Bataillon is a respected and well thought of judge and was the same as a lawyer.

But…Battalion’s ruling was a foregone conclusion. He had already ruled on essentially the same issue back in 2005, and no one thought he was going to suddenly flip now.

(By the way, note that the Judge’s decision was heavily based on children of gay couples — which I’ve always believed is at the nut of this issue, for both sides: What is the relationship of gay parents with adopted kids, and those who want to adopt. The next knock-down-drag-out of course is, How will it be “taught” in schools?)

And this is a political issue. Battalion was a Bill Clinton nominee, and was Chairman of the Nebraska Democratic Party. This wasn’t that hard for him. This issue has been split by many judges, and if one wanted to find the Nebraska law unconstitutional, there was not really a problem to find supporting caselaw, either way.

Which made Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson’s critique interesting. He noted that after reading Battalion’s ruling three times, he never really could find much of an argument against the law — just a listing of cases that agreed with his conclusion.

Kind of harsh? Mabye.

But Peterson was making a political argument as well as a legal one, and did so perfectly.

Peterson stood up next to Governor Pete Ricketts in their presser and gave calm, succinct responses to all of the questions from the super-conservative members of the press who were clearly on Peterson and Ricketts’ side.

What? No?
Not so much?

Anywho, Peterson got the obvious, “Isn’t this just like women’s rights and the civil rights issues of the 60’s?”

And he calmly responded…that he isn’t a talk show host. (OK, that’s my line.) His job isn’t to consider emotion and earnestness. His job is to look at the law — the Nebraska Constitution in this case — and defend what is in the Constitution.

Between the calm demeanor and the giant clunky glasses, Peterson looks and acts the part of A.G. perfectly and nailed it during the presser.

Ricketts, on the other hand was interesting. He immediately came out and blasted Battalion in his press release as an activist judge who was thwarting the will of the people of Nebraska. OK. But as Peterson put it, there was much to criticize in the written decision itself without simply trying to hammer the person.

And then Ricketts was doing fine in his answers — responding to the, “Well, couldn’t the will of the people have CHANGED during the past 15 years!!!!!” from an overwrought reporter.

Ricketts (good): “The people voted, and we don’t poll them every year to see if their feelings have changed…” (paraphrasing).

…making the strong legal point, but then…

Ricketts (bad): “…and when I went around the state during the campaign, people told me they consider marriage between a man and a woman…”

…which just negated the good point.

Oh well.

But maybe Ricketts felt the need to burnish his conservative bona fides by re-expressing how much he is in favor of traditional marriage.

On the other hand, there were Tweets like those from OWH’s Mike’l Severe, saying it was “tough” to read Ricketts’ statement because he otherwise likes Ricketts “as a person and I have a tough time understanding someone agreeing with denying civil rights.”

Which is fine… but its not as if this is some sort of surprise position from Ricketts.

Like it or not, everyone will likely get to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court decision in a few months to see how this shakes out.

And then everyone can continuing pretending to be shocked.


Depending on when you read this, the Winner Take All debate is still chugging along in the Unicameral.

In any case, a number of issues came back around as CPAC was finishing up in DC last week (stay with me here).

See, Rand Paul won the Presidential vote…again. Because his supporters jammed the conference…again. And like Forest Gump touring the White House, Paul supporters showed…again… that if you REALLY try, it’s not super difficult to win tiny votes.

Those on the Paul side have accomplished it in the Douglas County GOP. They almost did it a few years ago at the state level.

And it hit home when Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale was talking about why the proportional distribution of Electoral Votes is a bad idea.

His point is that fringe-ish groups (let us never refer to the Paulies as fully “fringe”!), can win smaller elections. And in the case of the Electoral College, you could see the whole thing screwed up if you went that route.

But, some say, it should be good enough for Nebraska! Look at us!
Nebraskans can handle things! Nebraskans are smaht! Not like everybody says… like dumb! Nebraskans are smaht and want respect!
(Yes, you get a nickel for ID’ing that line.)

It’s as if some Nebraskans (particularly those in the media) always have to check to see what the cool kids think of them.
The LJS last week ran a “here’s what famous people say about Nebraska!” thing — one of the many that always get published.

As Jordan McGrain said in our recent podcast — look, you’ve got “Better Call Saul” starting its season out in Omaha. It’s recognized! People can say it without putting “Nebraska” on the end. Heck, people anywhere in the country can say “Nebraska” without putting the modifier, “the state of…” in front of it!

It is not necessary to make up reasons to be different than everyone else on an issue as important as choosing the President.

Oh, and proportional distribution was all based on the idea of trying to give Democrats the 2nd District vote, anyway. (The partisan hacks…)


Not real sure where all the officialness stands, but it was unofficially confirmed that J.L. Spray will run as Nebraska’s GOP National Committeeman.

This keeps things in the party a little more hunky-dory, than maybe some thought they were.

At least on the outside.


Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert gave her State of the City address last week, stressing economic development and fighting crime.

It is a real trick for a Mayor, who on the one hand has the closest position to working with constituents, but on the other has to often react to events that can often be out of his or her control.

But Mayor Stothert thus far has done a very good job of laying out an agenda, then coming through on it. And in the mean time, she continues to hit the day to day issues, and appears to be on top of issues before they can spin out of control.

She is a busy person.


NRO’s Jay Nordlinger gushed about Senator Ben Sasse at #CPAC2015:

“It’s no stretch to see him president.”

And now Daid Mark at the American Spectator lists him as a leading Presidential contender…for 2020.

Look for some Nebraska reporters to hitch their wagon.


Unless Congress acts, and hopefully quickly, on the takeover of the internet by the unelected overlords of the F.C.C., you can guarantee that the unintended consequences of their recent “net neutrality” actions will spin out of control for years to come.

And your children’s children will marvel at what became of the thing they they’ve heard about third hand — since it’s now illegal to post things that diverge from the official Internet Position — that was so cool and vibrant and giving…before the Department of the Internet took it over.

(Oh, the Department of the Internet! What an outraaaaaageous idea! Ho, ho, ho, you silly conservatives!)

Because OF COURSE the Federal Government will make the Internet better!



I know it is always best to get the best person for the job, and all that.

But are there no Nebraskans that are qualified for all of these major positions in Nebraska government?

I’m not saying that interviews have to stop at the state line, but I’m just wondering whether Coach Riley needs to implement his Walk-On program at the state government level.

Maybe just a little home-grown talent.


Let’s say California kept saying that Nebraska was the great Satan and needed to be wiped off the face of the Earth.

One might argue that Nebraska might have an interest in keeping nuclear weapons out of Jerry Brown’s hands, yeah?

Well, California to Nebraska, as the crow flies, is about the distance from Iran to Israel.

Yet, some in Congress seem to think that Israel is being outrageous in needing to defend itself.

Bravo to Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse for being vocal in their view that the Administration should cut the crap about Iran’s nukes.


Hey! I hope you’re enjoying the podcasts on Wheels Down Politics!

Keep listening, and better yet, subscribe to it on iTunes.
Each podcast will automatically download when it’s ready, and you can click and listen with ease!

These are perfect commute or workout length, and I hope you’ll continue to enjoy.

The next one should be very interesting (and fun!) as well.

And be sure to listen to yesterday’s interview with Shane Osborn.


  1. Anonymous says:

    If Israel is mortally afraid of a Persian Bomb, let Israel nuke Tehran and deal with the, er, fallout. They’ll be doing the Saudis and Gulf States a favor, as those countries fear Persian expansion and hegemony. Israel will also do the US, or at least the Chaney-wing of the Republican Party a favor. Of course it becomes harder to keep the nuclear genie in the bottle in places like India & Pakistan and the Korean Peninsula. But by all means go ahead Bibi. An eye for an eye.

    The Republican Party’s in-built hypocrisy in divorce makes any complaint about same sex marriage meaningless. Any imagined harm caused by same sex marriage can’t exceed the actual harm caused to children, couples and society by divorce. Republicans seem to live divorce more than marriage, given their regular use of that legal option. The will of the people is more for no fault divorce as an expression of personal liberty than it is for “traditional marriage.” “The People” are an ass.

  2. Outsider says:

    Are there no qualified Nebraskans to fill any top jobs in state government? Why spend all of this money on the University if there are no qualified people to head up DEQ, HHS, Corrections, Roads, or any other of the agencies with only “acting directors?” Mr. Ricketts in his speech to UNL graduates exhorted them to stay in the state to work, but he sure won’t hire any of them. Is also similar to the news that the new Land Bank executive director in Omaha needs to be a “shining star” and to find a shining star we have to do a national search! Really, a shining star to be found for $85,000 to $150,000! Wouldn’t someone who understands all of the communities in Omaha be better, there are enough shining starts on this board that you don’t need another. Just need a good organizer, and an administrator that can follow through with what the board wants.

  3. John Cazale says:

    To celebrate my first mention on L Street, I need to find two cocktail waitresses. Wait..I can’t. I’ve beed dead for years.

  4. Anonymous-er says:

    To 12:56: Not fair. Rod’s a stud. Bruning’s self-inflicted undoing was baked in well before his campaign even began.

  5. BenS asse says:

    President???? lol Really. He’s worse than the nut job politician played by Martin Sheen in the movie “Dead Zone”

  6. KHDS says:

    Wondering what Pete’s sister said to him, if anything.

    And Joe is a firm Dem and the only mystery is why the ACLU didn’t file the case three years ago? And what are the odds that BOTH SSM cases would randomly assigned to Joe?

  7. Macdaddy says:

    Ricketts is proving to be a rather clumsy politician.

    Anon 6:56, I, and many other Republicans, would be more than happy to work on the problem of divorce beginning with the abolition of no-fault divorce as well as placing requirements on getting married (such as pre-marital classes) besides just showing up at the courthouse with $5 and 2 witnesses. I readily agree that divorce has brought great damage onto America. So, how will same sex marriage help that? Last I saw, the divorce rates were just as bad for same sex marriages in the US as they were for traditional marriage. And as for the judge’s “it’s for the children” twaddle, I look forward to the day when he consistently applies that ruling to bigamy, polygamy, and whatever other combos people can think up to be “happy.” I agree that change in the the divorce laws in the 70s was the beginning of the end for marriage. Same sex marriage is the coup de grace to the back of marriage’s head. Good luck with that.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Joe just handed off the decision he and the sot justice have already made and everyone knows with some weasel legalise. the timing was right. Maybe he didn’t want to be the Nebraska fall guy, but as a democrat it was probably the fate of the 300% license fee increase was decided

  9. Anonymous says:

    Stud: A large-headed piece of metal that pierces and projects from a surface, especially for decoration. To that end? Rod is a stud.

  10. LB 366 says:

    Just passed raising your taxes (errr…. I mean creating more revenue to appropriate) Yeah “conservative” Senators!

  11. Anonymous says:

    SSM is not the kill-shot that destroyed marriage, Macdaddy. You can’t kill something that died long before the first Pride Flag flew.

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