Religion v Speech ~ June 4th

Freedom of Religion versus Freedom of Speech

The tyranny of the Majority versus The Tyranny of the Minority

On this day, June 4, 1738, George III (June 4, 1738 – January 29, 1820) was born in Norfolk House, St. James’s Square, London, England, Kingdom of Great Britain.

In 1791, George begrudgingly assented to the Roman Catholic Relief Act. The Act relieved Roman Catholics of certain political, educational, and economic disabilities. It admitted Catholics to the practice of law, permitted the legal practice of Catholicism, and the existence of Catholic schools. (On the other hand, there were continued restrictions as well: chapels, schools, officiating priests, and school teachers had to be registered with the government. Assemblies with locked doors, as well as steeples and bells to chapels, were forbidden. Catholic priests could not wear clerical robes or offer Mass in the open air; Protestant children could not be admitted to Catholic schools. Monastic orders and endowments for Catholic schools and colleges were prohibited.)

The Tory Leader, William Pitt the Younger, as well as the rival Whig Leader, Charles James Fox, had pledged full Catholic Emancipation. Amazingly, however, King George III argued that full freedom for Catholics would be a violation of his coronation oath.

It wasn’t until 1766 that true Catholic Emancipation did not occur until the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829. To overcome the vehement opposition of both the House of Lords and King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked tirelessly to ensure passage in the House of Lords and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.

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On June 4, 1870, Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad was born. Hesselblad worked tirelessly at inter-religious dialogue, and against racism. During World War II – and after – she performed many charitable works on behalf of the poor and those that suffered due to racial laws and promoted peace between Christians and non-Christians. The war also saw her save the lives of Jewish people who would have otherwise have perished in the Holocaust had it not been for her direct intervention. Pope John Paul II beatified her on April 9, 2000, and Pope Francis approved her canonization in late 2015. Hesselblad is also recognized as a Righteous Among the Nations due to her efforts in World War II saving the lives of Jewish people during the Holocaust.

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On this day, June 4, 1989, the Tiananmen Square Massacre occurred in response to the pro-democracy demonstrations. At the heart of these demonstrations was the lack of freedom in China… no freedom of religion, no freedom of speech, and -certainly on June 4th– no freedom of assembly or petition of grievances.

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And today, June 4, 2018, the US Supreme Court announced its decision in Masterpiece Cake v CCRC. Personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I don’t think it’s as simple as either of the two sides think that it is. I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults

As my friend David Stacy said, its perhaps “one of the most intelligent decisions they’ve written in some time… What I think is so brilliant about it is that it’s allowing for a better conversation. SCOTUS set the standard for how government officials treat religious individuals and cases of religious expression outside of the clergy. The fallout will be interesting, for sure.”

I sure hope Dave is correct. but I am nervous about the fact that there were three different concurring opinions. That kind of tells me that they couldn’t agree among themselves, and that’s why they made a narrow decision, not for their altruistic and brilliant reasons that David is hoping for.

Where is that line between religion and speech?

  • Would we expect a Muslim cakemaker to put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on a cake? Would a Jewish cakemaker have to create a cake with a swastika on it? Would a Catholic cakemaker have to make a cake with the image of a pope or priest as a pedophile or with condoms?
  • On the other hand, would we be comfortable with a cakemaker denying to make a cake for a mixed-race wedding? Or a cake for a marriage between persons of obvious age discrepancy?

What right does a service provider have to limit their services? What right does society have to force services from unwilling service providers? I sure don’t know…

I also think, but I’m not sure how this would be worded in a judicial decision, that there is an issue of access. I’ve heard this issue come up in abortion/women’s reproduction cases. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), the Court held that if legislation is crafted in such a way that the access to abortion clinics is essentially eliminated, then that is unconstitutional. So, to a degree, as long as there are fair alternatives to Masterpiece Cake, then the Court perhaps should lean toward protecting the religious freedom of the business owner, however, if there was not a fair alternative, then the Court ought to lean toward protecting the rights of the customer.

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Regardless, and as I said to David Stacy earlier today is that, personally, I’m glad I didn’t have to write that decision. I also don’t think it’s as simple as it might seem prima facie. Personally, I think the decision was basically a loud statement of shut up go to your corners and act like adults…

U.S. Supreme Court Multiple Choice:

A) Bush has decided to make his nomination of Harriet Miers based on his personal relationship, than on any judicial reckoning. This is acceptable on face-value, but does hint at cronyism.

B) Although Miers has a nearly non-existent paper trail, Bush knows something that “we” don’t and is daring Democrats to vote against her in much the same way as his father dared Senate Democrats to vote against Clarence Thomas. This may seem plausible, but one wonders if Bush was “pulling a Thomas,” then why didn’t he nominate a Hispanic-American and thereby make a Presidential First instead of a Presidential Third?

C) Bush has “blinked” in a Constitutional showdown. Bush, realizing his evaporating political capital, has decided to offer a moderate nominee who will more easily sail through confirmation and, thereby avoid the filibuster threat. In the spring, Bush may have prevailed politically and personally, but with the myriad of recent events and while Bush could have prevailed in the Senate, he would have sacrificed any political capital for the remainder of his term. Unfortunately, in “blinking” to the Democrats, Bush has agitated his most loyal political base who will feel betrayed that the nominee is not a Renquist-Scalia-Thomas clone.

And the answer is? We should know in fifteen years or so…

The Democratic Spin: The Democrats should applaud Miers as much as possible, making her out to be their choice all along. This gives them increased stature and will surely exasperate the conservatives’ sense of betrayal.

The Republican Spin: The White House and Republican allies should offer Miers up as an example of fulfilling the campaign promises of bringing people together and changing the culture of Washington.

Catholic Conspiracy?

Ahh, the Church leaders are obviously involved in a DaVinci-Codish conspiracy of Constitutional proportions… Why else would they be silent on the Catholicity (or lack their of) of Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Anthony Kennedy? After the inevitable confirmation of John Roberts, there will be four Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court. One more and they can of course, overturn Roe v. Wade. That could be the only reason for the American Catholic bishops to attack Catholic Democrats and give a free pass to Republican Catholics that are pro-death penalty, pro-torture, anti-civil, and anti-equal rights.

Thank God I’m Not a Republican

Thank God I’m Not a Republican. Boy, I’d really be upset if I was a conservative. After all, it’s been eleven years since the Republican Revolution and the Contract on America. The U.S. House of Representatives has been Republican ever since. The U.S. Senate has been controlled by Republicans for six of the last seven years. In the last seven presidential elections, only one Democrat (Bill Clinton) has won. [And remember pundits claimed that Clinton only won because Ross Perot split the vote three ways and Alan Greenspan “betrayed George HW Bush (President George H.W. Bush, “I appointed him and he disappointed me.”)]. Twenty-eight of the fifty governors are Republican (source: rga.org). Most of the state legislatures are controlled by Republicans (21 GOP, 17 Democratic, 11 split; source: ncsl.org).

And what have they done? The party platform claims that “We oppose abortion…we support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. (source: GOP platform, pg84). Meanwhile, George W. Bush has nominated John Roberts who has said in swore testimony before the U.S. Senate the Constitution supports privacy, the key legal concept used to decide and uphold Roe v. Wade. Roberts also unequivocally said “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land…There is nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent” (source: US Senate testimony).

The bottom line is this: if you want to be a Republican, that’s fine. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that the Republican Party will ever undo Roe v. Wade. They control entire US government from top to bottom and haven’t done a thing. Most importantly, even if you want to stay deluded yourself, stop using guilt, religion and scare tactics to make good people think they have to vote Republican.

Bad News for Outside Washington, Good news Inside Washington

Iraq, Oil Prices, Katrina. George Bush’s poll numbers are sinking as fast as oil prices are rising. We are witnessing devastation eerily similar to 9/11, the destruction zone of the Southeast tidal wave, and the parts of the world affected by war and famine. In all of this Chief Justice Renquist has died. Bush’s inability to accomplish any “mission” is good news for defenders of the Bill of Rights. Bush has lost so much political capital that the likelihood of his elevating Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, or their like has diminished. These are tough times personally, humanly, economically, and internationally. Perhaps there is a chance though for a more balanced bench on the highest court inside Washington.

Political Campaign for USSC?

What’s in a Name?
by Holly Bailey (reprinted from Newsweek, July 13th, Periscope)

June 13 issue – Ted Jackson is ready. The Kentucky Republican operative who designed and sold President George W. Bush’s official campaign gear in 2004 is already sketching out the bumper stickers, hats and T shirts that will advertise Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court—whoever that may be. Amid speculation that ailing Chief Justice William Rehnquist may soon retire, Jackson and his company, the Spaulding Group, are laying the groundwork for what will be an unprecedented public campaign in favor of a high-court nominee. Following the model of Bush’s online campaign store, Jackson plans to sell yard signs, buttons and other items once exclusive to political campaigns and use them to promote Bush’s candidate to replace Rehnquist as chief justice. The only difference, Jackson says: instead of vote for or elect, signs will say confirm.

Could a Scalia for chief justice sign pop up in a yard near you? Jackson says there’s already been “considerable demand” for court items from customers who stocked up on Bush memorabilia in 2004. (He plans to sell the goods on the same site: georgewbushstore.com.) “People are a lot more open with their politics than they used to be,” Jackson says. “In this case, they not only want to show their support for President Bush, but they also want to show their support for his agenda and his nominees.” While there is rampant speculation about potential candidates, Jackson says his group hasn’t drawn up any designs with certain individuals in mind—nor has he gotten any hints from his friends at the White House. Like everyone else, he’s waiting and wondering. “All we need is a name,” he says. “Once we have a name, we can turn around something within 48 hours.”

Underming the Courts

Brilliant. Let’s put a man on the United States Supreme Court who encourages violence toward federal judges. [http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/04/breaking-gop-senator-john-cornyn-r-tx.html]

Senators Mentioned As Possible Justices
By JESSE J. HOLLAND, Associated Press Writer 1 hour, 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – If there is a Supreme Court vacancy this summer, President Bush may look no farther than the Capitol for a member of Congress who can be confirmed quickly. Past presidents have done it, more than two dozen times.

While admittedly long shots, GOP Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona and John Cornyn of Texas are being talked up by some conservatives as possible nominees for the high court.

Seen as most likely to step down is Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who at 80 is fighting cancer. Retirement also might be attractive option for Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, 75, and John Paul Stevens, 85.

Kyl is a stalwart pro-business conservative and a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Cornyn is a former Texas Supreme Court justice and state attorney general. Both men have been at the forefront in fighting Democratic filibusters against Bush’s federal appeals court nominees.

Like all potential Supreme Court nominees — most lists of would-be candidates have at least 10 judges, lawyers or lawmakers — the senators played down their chances.

“If I was on the president’s short list, I think I would have heard about it by now,” Kyl said with a laugh.

Cornyn said, “It’s flattering, but I like my current job and I’m not looking for another one.”

Twenty-six men who served in Congress — 10 only in the Senate, 12 only in the House and four in both chambers — later joined the Supreme Court. The revolving door has turned the other way only once: David Davis resigned from the court in 1877 to represent Illinois in the Senate as an independent.

Bush has looked to Congress when filling federal court vacancies.
He picked Rep. Christopher Cox
, R-Calif., for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. Cox withdrew after California’s two Democratic senators opposed him. He is now awaiting confirmation to head the Securities and Exchange Commission

Outsiders agree that Kyl and Cornyn are less likely to be selected by Bush for a Supreme Court vacancy if Rehnquist is the first to retire.

“I would be very surprised to see a Republican senator nominated to replace Rehnquist,” said Sean Rushton of the conservative Committee for Justice. “It would make more sense to nominate a Republican senator like Cornyn to replace Sandra Day O’Connor or John Paul Stevens.”

The president would be expected to replace Rehnquist with a non-Washington conservative because senators know that pick will not change the court’s ideological balance, Rushton said. But if O’Connor or Stevens leaves, Bush could swing the court further to the right by picking either Kyl or Cornyn. Both senators are considered more conservative than O’Connor and Stevens.

They both also have the advantage of being members of “the club.” The Senate has never rejected one of its own for the high court. Senators have just emerged from a partisan deadlock over Bush’s picks for appeals courts. Choosing a conservative senator might be attractive because of “senatorial courtesy” — the idea that senators will not be overly harsh to one of their own during the confirmation process.

The downside is that, for a time, the Republicans’ 55-vote majority could shrink if Kyl is a nominee. Arizona’s Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, probably would appoint a Democrat to replace him until the 2006 election. Of course, senatorial courtesy is never a guarantee.
Cornyn, for example, might find himself having to explain comments he made after several violent attacks on judges this year. He said he wondered whether frustration against perceived political decisions by judges “builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in violence, certainly without any justification.” Critics said his comments could incite violence against judges and the remarks could come back to haunt Cornyn.

Several years ago, former GOP Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina tried his best to scuttle former Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’ s nomination as ambassador to New Zealand, until Republican leaders made it clear they would not let him.

Former Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., had a hard time getting past Democratic senators to become Bush’s first attorney general. The Senate voted to confirm him 58-42, the narrowest margin ever for an attorney general.