Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The United States of Taliban Thinking and The Supreme Court

The Truth Is Rarely So Clear ... But It Is Clear Now Posted by Hello
The Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of displays of the 10 Commandments in Austin, Texas and at a courthouse in Kentucky. So once again, the 1st Amendment of the Constitution, the ultimate law of the land is under attack by religious zealots determined to force the whole nation to worship as they do, much like the Taliban did in Afghanistan. Wait a minute, isn't that one of the justifications we gave for invading a 3rd world country with a marginal military? In the same vein, these zealots want to make the government a branch of their particular sect. The 1st Amendment of the Constitution CLEARLY states that Congress shall make no law establishing an establishment of religion. Courts have interpreted this to mean no religious displays on government property with the thought being that it is a far better idea to not get involved the quagmire mixing government and religion will ultimately bring.

Now before, we get started; let me say that I am Catholic. I believe in God, the Holy Spirit, the whole to do. I disagree completely, however, once the church begins to intrude on the lives of those who choose not to affiliate with Christianity or the majority religion. I fimly believe in respecting other's choices so long as those choices dont' intrude on my life; after all, I have the choice not to watch what they watch; I can chose not to read what they read; I can chose not to listen to what they listen to. After all, America is really about choice. Choose what you want to do; choose to be who you want to be; choose what you become. However, some arrogant religious, self-appointed pricks believe that they know better than most of us and need to guide us to what works for them. This is against the fundamental principle of freedom of religion; after all, FREEDOM OF RELIGION DEPENDS ON FREEDOM FROM RELIGION.

Judge Roy Moore (the federal judge from Alabama who refused to order the removal of a 10 Commandments display from the federal courthouse and who was or is facing disciplinary action for his refusal) has written an amicus brief, or what is known as a friend of the court brief in support of keeping the displays up. His arguments are the proverbial slippery slope of establishing a national religion. In one argument he makes the point that we should read the Constitution as it was written at that time and apply that meaning; in other words, he would advance an originalist constitutional interpretation. This would mean that we read the Constitution literally and apply what was the understood meaning at that time. The problem with this argument is that the framers of the Constitution would have no concept at the time of its writing of the problems we have in this modern world. How can you apply the understanding of the Constitution at the time it was created to say traffic stop cases or stem cell research or class action suits against pharmaceutical companies? This is an overly simplistic view and they can be no credible way to stretch the original interpretation to meet many of the problems we face today. Next, Moore tries a slight of hand trick. He starts by saying that a monument is not a law. Good argument, but this begs the question: Well, don't you have to have some sort of governmental endorsement to erect a monument on government land? Here is the slight of hand: Moore argues that the endorsement needed in Texas was only a resolution and not a law: "The monument was erected by a simple 1961 resolution fueled by a desire to "'honor the youth of Texas who are members of the Boy Scouts.". Nice, but then he goes on to try to throw some grease the wheels for further religions intrusions by citing from another case: "Similar to an executive Thanksgiving proclamation, the Capitol monument "has not the force of law, nor was it so intended." Richardson v. Goddard, 64 U.S. (How.) 28, 43 (1859) ("The proclamation . . . is but a recommendation. . . .". So a state can openly "recommend" one religion over another; they can "recommend" funding for one sect over another; they can "recommend" religioius observances for an entire state; as long as it's only a proclamation or resolution. I think I can feel the slippery ground begin to angle downward beneath my feet as I read more of Moore's brief.

The other big argument being advanced in this whole fracas is that the monuments represent our historical foundations of the law and nothing more. This argument might have a modicum of merit if there weren't hundreds of ministers and other self-appointed "holy men" praying at the steps of the Supreme Court. If these monuments were truly displayed to pay tribute to our historical foundations of law, I wonder how these ministers and holy men might react if a monument of Hammurabi's Code were displayed; or the Magna Carta; or a monument with some of the French thinker Rosseau's writings; or a monument with a Roman emperor paying tribute to the original legislative body? Would these self-appointed "defenders of the faith" react with such zeal to defend these historical characters? I don't buy this argument anyways; it's a flat out lie. Saying that the monuments "only" represent our legal historical roots and nothing more is as believable as the guy who says he reads Playboy and Penthouse for the articles and nothing more. The proponents of both of these arguments are full of shit, but at least you can laugh at the guy with the Playboys. And he'd better enjoy the "articles" while he can because at this rate, the church run state government may "recommend" that any sort of secular entertainment be pulled so that instead we can all attend the church of that the state "recommends" in its "resolutions".

No comments: