For many of us, John Oliver is just a very funny man. His acerbic sense of humor and British accent keep us rolling in front of our TVs as he pokes fun at the crazy things people say and do in America and across the world. He is a hilarious example of the rise of “smart humor” –humor that requires you understand politics, religion, science, medicine, history, and the law. It’s this brand of humor that led to Oliver’s recent immortalization in the annals of 9th Circuit judicial history.
9th Circuit Court of Appeal Judge Marsha S. Berzon, one of a panel of three judges who heard the matter of Rea Mializa O. Paeste et al. v. Government of Guam et al., recently authored an opinion affirming the district court’s summary judgment and permanent injunction in a class action brought by Guam taxpayers against Guam and several of its officers in their official capacities alleging (1) that the defendants violated the tax provisions of the Organic Act of Guam by failing timely to refund income tax overpayments; and (2) that Guam’s expedited tax refund program violated plaintiffs’ equal protection rights.
What does this mean? Many things too complicated for this blog post. So why are we here today? Because Judge Berzon cited John Oliver’s March 8, 2015, segment criticizing the treatment of U.S. Territories in the 9th Circuit opinion. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S. Territories, Youtube (Mar. 8, 2015). And, we here at MSJDN love to celebrate military spouses and the law!
Yes, I said military spouses. John Oliver is, in fact, a military spouse. He is married to former U.S. Army medic Kate Norley. Norley enlisted in the Army at 19 following the tragedy of September 11th. She served in Iraq as a combat medic counseling soldiers experiencing war-induced mental trauma and continued her service at Fort Hood as a mental health specialist. In 2008, Norley completed her time in the Army and became a veterans rights advocate.
The story, as reported by the happy couple, is they met at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota where Norley was campaigning with Vets for Freedom and Oliver was poking fun at Republicans as a correspondent for The Daily Show. Oliver, then a non-U.S. citizen in America on a temporary visa, was concerned about the ramifications of an arrest at the Convention when he and his crew were caught in a restricted area. They ran. The veterans campaigning with Vets for Freedom hid Oliver and his camera crew from security and a romance bloomed between Norley, the Iraq war veteran, and Oliver, the irreverent comedian. Three years later, they were married.
John Oliver has remarked, “When you’ve married someone who’s been at war, there is nothing you can do that compares to that level of selflessness and bravery. I feel humbled daily by what she has managed to do with her life versus how I’ve decided to fritter away mine.”
Oliver can be forgiven for poking fun at himself; after all, he is a comedian. But we here at MSJDN know exactly how tough it is to be married to a member of the armed forces, active duty or retired. There is always a hint of a feeling that you are less important because the value of their service to our great country is so high. But, those who support serve as well. Where would our spouses be without us to hold down the homefront? Would they be as dedicated to the protection of our country without the knowledge that we are here waiting for their return? Our service on the homefront, our support to our military, our choice to marry someone who has answered a greater calling despite the high cost to us and to our families, is critical to the protection and defense of our country.
So thank you to all the people who choose to marry into the military community. Join us in recognizing the amazing contributions of military spouses wherever, however, and whenever they are made. Celebrate John Oliver, military spouse making legal news!