Court is in Session

The three major SCOTUS decisions last week trigger three thoughts of mine, some admittedly tenuously related to the matters at hand.

DOMA
The court ruling that advanced the ball a little on gay rights made me think about how we will know we’ve reached the promised land: when we ALL go back in the closet, gay and straight.

In polite society we don’t discuss our sexual practices. When folks get on TV and declare themselves gay that is shorthand for “I engage in oral sex and/or sodomy and/or mutual masturbation with someone of my own gender.” When a straight person declares himself straight on TV he is using the same shorthand with respect to the opposite sex. And you know what folks? It just ain’t polite. We need to get to a point in this country where folks no longer feel the need to make this declaration.

And let’s get one thing clear since we’ve muddled up this argument with stupid rhetoric. The opposition to gay marriage in this country hasn’t a damn thing to do with “who we love”. It has to do with some people’s disgust with the sex act being shared between same gender couples. It has nothing to do with marriage as an environment for procreation. It has to do with marriage as an environment for sexual intercourse. No one bats an eye at heterosexual childless couples. We don’t care that they don’t procreate–we’re just glad they fuck “as God intended”.

Once we get over homosexuality as perversion we will be fine with gay marriage and then we can all stop talking about it and put our sex back where it belongs for all of us: back in the privacy of our bedroom.

Voting Rights Act
OK this one stung for several reasons. First it highlights Antonin Scalia’s hypocrisy as he bemoans judicial activism in the CA prop 8 decision (that was released with the DOMA decision) but has no problem tossing out the will of Congress on voting rights.

Putting that aside, we need to respond to this decision by playing the game on the State’s terms and stop whining. They want you to have a photo ID? Then if you REALLY want to vote, get the damn ID. Do what you have to do and beat them at their own game. Folks stood in line for hours in 2012 to vote. They weren’t taking no for an answer. That is the determination we must bring to every election. When they can’t beat down our will they will cross the line of illegality and then the Voting Rights Act will still be there for us to prosecute them.

U of Texas
The Court essentially kicked this can down the road by sending it back to the lower court for further review. But it does give me a chance to state my own preference: EO not AA.

I believe that institutions intent on diversity need to maximize outreach. They should actively recruit minority applications. However, the application evaluation process should be color blind. Paul Ryan was right when he said last year that we don’t guarantee equal outcomes. We shouldn’t. But he was dead wrong in implying we have equal opportunity. We don’t. To the extent that college admission programs can give the talented underclass a fair hearing, so much the better. However it goes too far if race trumps qualifications.

An Aside in Defense of Rick Perry
The liberal media and progressives in general had a conniption when TX Governor Rick Perry suggested that state Senator Wendy Davis had not learned from her own life the value of every human life. Davis famously engaged in an 11 hour filibuster to block anti-abortion measures in Texas. Davis, it turns out, not only was born out of wedlock but had her first born unmarried at age 19. Perry cited Davis’ successful life as evidence of the potential that exists in every zygote and fetus.

People say Rick shouldn’t have made it personal but folks what else is the abortion debate if not personal? The decision whether or not to allow a pregnancy to go to term is probably the most personal decision a woman will make. It is for that reason that Rick’s comment was completely appropriate in that it got the matter down to brass tacks. It is also the reason why government needs to play a minimal role in this matter.

Rick said out loud what any self respecting pro-life person was thinking. Rick’s only mistake was in assuming that Davis’ mother’s very personal decision is right for every woman.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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The Slippery Slope to Sharia Law

No, this is not going to be another one of those Islamaphobic rants about how Sharia law is coming to a theater near you any day now. On the contrary, this will be a Judeo-christian-phobic rant about double standards and where the real threat of religious domination comes from.

Recently, the Supreme Court announced in a unanimous decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC that a religious institution could discriminate in its hiring practices without repercussions. This supposedly falls under freedom of religion. The case involves a woman who took a medical leave from a Lutheran school due to a diagnosis of narcolepsy. Upon returning from leave she was told her job had been taken and there was no further work for her. When she threatened to sue, she was fired. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) took on her case as a violation of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) protections.

I have no problem with the case being adjudicated solely on the basis of the legitimacy of the ADA claim. What I find disturbing is that the religious affiliation of the school had any impact whatsoever on the case. According to an article in the Washington Post:

Richard W. Garnett, director of Notre Dame Law School’s Program in Church, State, and Society, said the ruling is the court’s most important decision on religious freedom in decades.

“The government doesn’t get to second-guess religious communities’ decisions about who should be their teachers, leaders and ministers,” he said.

via Supreme Court: Discrimination laws do not protect certain religious group workers – The Washington Post.

So religion gets to operate outside the law? Is that what we are supposed to believe? It worked so well in the Catholic church where their brand of internal justice ruined the lives of countless children molested by “teachers, leaders and ministers” who happened to be  pedophiles.

When exactly do we apply this hands-off standard for religion? Why is polygamy not a protected practice within the Mormon church? Why did they have to renounce the practice to maintain their tax exempt status? Perhaps the Roberts Court would like to re-adjudicate that decision? Based on Hosanna-Tabor, if I were a Mormon minister I would most certainly float a test case reestablishing polygamy as legitimate within the church. The Court has established that our government has no right to extend its legal standards to religious institutions, at least so long as they are Christian.

So, the next time you hear some paranoid rant about how we need to protect America from Sharia law, just think about Hosanna-Tabor. We are already on the slippery slope to religious practice trumping American law.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Citizens United v. FEC: Freedom of Speech v. Unfair Influence

The Supreme Court last week struck down some 70 years of legal precedent concerning the ability of corporations to spend their discretionary money in support of a political candidate within a certain time frame of an election. Many liberals are beside themselves with concern over this decision saying that, to paraphrase Senator Chuck Schumer, the winners of the upcoming election will not be Democrats and will not be Republicans but will be corporations.

I read enough of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion to believe that the opposition to this opinion is much ado about nothing and in fact represents an odd inconsistency with liberal belief. The opinion comes down on the side of freedom of speech (the First Amendment), which we liberals hold almost more dear than anything else in our platform.

But first, we need a reality check. Before this opinion was issued by the Court, Congress was already bought and sold by lobbyists and big business. Who are we fooling here? On one level the Court’s decision simply makes the law reflect reality.

Even if we get beyond the cold reality of how things really work, the opinion stands on its own logically. When a company contributes to a political campaign, there is an implicit quid-pro-quo relationship established. The candidate has solicited the donation and the company has made the donation. This establishes a potential obligation between one party and the other. That is why there are limits to campaign contributions. This was not changed by the Citizens United decision.

However when a company freely spends its money in support of a candidate via commercials, films, etc. when the candidate has not solicited such support, no quid-pro-quo relationship is established. In this case, the company (for profit or non-profit corporation) is freely exercising its Constitutionally guaranteed right to express its opinion. This is the very essence of freedom of speech. There are those who say that corporations are not “people” and should not enjoy first amendment protection. I argue that corporations represent the will of people, either their board of directors, their shareholders or their executive team. Corporations are not aliens. They are human inventions influenced by the humans who run them.

Again, we need to step back a moment to the reality prior to this ruling. It has been correctly noted by some commentators that General Electric owns MSNBC and therefore pays the salaries of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, both of whom reserve the right to express their opinion about a candidate right up to the moment that he or she wins or loses the race. In fact, in the case of Scott Brown of Massachusetts, Keith Olbermann went right on expressing his opinion after Brown won the race. By the current liberal sky-is-falling reasoning, didn’t General Electric have unfair influence prior to this ruling?

While I understand the concerns about corporations gaining even more influence via this decision, I think that risk pales in comparison to the slippery slope that we find ourselves on when we restrict the speech of one entity whom we distrust. Who gets censored next? This was the inevitable conclusion that the Court had to make.  When you restrict the speech of any of us, you risk restricting the speech of us all and you compromise the most fundamental principle upon which our country is built.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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