Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supreme Court. Show all posts

Saturday, September 4, 2021

It’s Iimi! A Hand-Made Tale

After the recent Supreme Court decision involving the Texas law on abortion, Myrna tells Della about how students and teachers are equating the opposition to abortion to the Margaret Atwood novel (and Hulu TV series) The Handmaids Tale and the Taliban treatment of women. Della demonstrates how this is false. She also outlines the issues to consider that make her unsure about the “lawsuit” aspect of the law, and the hypocrisy of those who call it wrong while supporting other lawsuit legislation.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

It’s Iimi! The Fake Tricks

Sean Marcus wants to ask Iimi about the eviction moratorium being ruled unconstitutional and how it can be reconciled with being pro-life. Iimi points out that Sean needs to consider much more than “good guys” and “bad guys.” Will he consider her points? Or will he take the Blue Pill?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Quick Quips: "Wait, What?" Thoughts on Dubious Things I Have Seen Online


Once more it’s time for quick comments on topics where I don’t feel the need to publish a full blown article, but the topic irritates me enough to want to say something. This time, it’s involving some dubious (to put it charitably) things I have seen on the internet and what bothers me about them.

Papal Press Conferences

I’m not going to talk about THIS press conference. I want to say something about all the press conferences Pope has already done and will continue to do.

I’ll be honest. I would not mind at all if the Pope announced he was putting a moratorium on press conferences. But the reason I dread them has nothing to do with what the Pope says. I dread them because it is becoming more and more clear that we have a secular media which is either incompetent in doing research or willful in misrepresentation and we have a growing number of Catholics who are willing to assume that the reports from the secular media are accurate. Either they think the Pope is a political liberal and approve, or they think the Pope is a political liberal and disapprove. The problem is, neither group tries to start with the assumption that the Pope is speaking as a Catholic, and try to read his words through that assumption. They should.

Every time this has happened, the content shows he said nothing against Church teaching, but people believe the falsehood instead. Personally I think the media needs remedial courses in logic and ethics, while Catholics could stand to relearn the teaching on rash judgment.

The Supreme Court Brouhaha

After the death of Antonin Scalia, a huge debate emerged over the issue of whether Obama, being a lame duck president with less than a year before his successor takes over, should be able to nominate a new Justice or whether we should wait until 2017. Both sides are accusing the other of hypocrisy and both sides are citing the precedents of previous partisan behavior. A number of internet claims have led to people doing research and discovering all sorts of curious historic facts in attempts to debunk the other side. Because I try to make this blog about the Catholic position and not my own personal views (to avoid leading somebody into thinking my personal views are the Church view), I don’t intend to make this an article advocating one side or the other. Rather, I hope to consider what a just approach to this instance should look like.

Catholics have a right to be concerned about the state of religious freedom when it comes to the Obama administration and the decisions of the Courts. Both have come out in favor of things we believe are intrinsically evil (evil always, regardless of circumstances or motive) and have tended to be hostile towards our oppositions on the grounds that we cannot do what we believe to be wrong. So, when a President with a record of hostility towards the Catholic Church intends to nominate a Justice for the Supreme Court, Catholics are not wrong to ask what kind of nominee is intended and what position he holds on these issues. If we find that the nominee holds views which we find offensive, we have a right to oppose that nomination, and those with the responsibility to consider the nomination have the responsibility to reject it.

That being said, we have to do this in a just manner. I think that the current presentation of “We should wait until the next president is inaugurated before nominating a new justice” is problematic. It gives the impression of acting out of partisan motives—the approach of “I won’t support any nominee that comes from this guy!”

It doesn’t help that both parties would adopt the opposite position if their circumstances were reversed.

The Devil Hates Latin?

So, I saw an article claiming that the Devil "hates Latin" because it is the language of the universal Church. I had two thoughts...

  1. The Eastern Rites might have something to say about the “language of the universal Church” bit...
  2. Latin was also the language of the Roman Empire which sought to destroy Christianity.

I suspect what was the actual case was that an exorcist found Latin more effective because translations into other languages were not as good (not being an exorcist, I cannot say). But to turn the language itself into something holy is kind of bizarre.  Let's not turn Latin into some sort of magical incantation like they do in the TV show Supernatural where some guy can play a recording of a Latin exorcism and expel demons.

Besides, does one really want to say that the Devil would prefer “Faith of Our Fathers” sung in English over this?

(How to drive a Latin Mass enthusiast insane?)

Friday, June 26, 2015

They Will Hate Us

Zechariah Stoned(The Stoning of Zechariah)


The Supreme Court has ruled today legalizing “same sex marriage” in a very poorly reasoned decision. This is something a Christian cannot support in good faith. Of course we believe that we are called to treat each individual with all the love and respect that is due a human person. But that love we are called to does not mean that we are required to recognize a morally bad act as if it were good. Therefore we deny that our actions are motivated by hatred when we say that homosexual acts are wrong. However, people will accuse us of hatred anyway. 

Because those political and cultural elites have decided that the only moral wrong is “hatred,” and because they decide that any action or belief they dislike is “hatred,” it stands to reason that we will become social pariahs in society. I fully expect that families will be divided as Our Lord warned in Matthew:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. 35 For I have come to set 

a man ‘against his father, 

a daughter against her mother, 

and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 

36 and one’s enemies will be those of his household.’  (Matthew 10:34-36)

So, when those of us who believe that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman encounter those who believe that any sexual relationship can become a “marriage,” they will accuse us of bigotry, hatred, homophobia and so on. They will falsely compare themselves with the Civil Rights movement and equate us with being Klansmen. To bolster their claim, they will trot out every extremist who comes along and equate them with being the “typical” example of Christian opposition.

This is false of course. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes quite clear that, despite moral opposition to same sex sexual acts, we are not to treat people with such an inclination with hatred or do harm to them:

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved. (2333)

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (2347) [Emphasis added]

Of course this hostility in the face of rejecting society’s values in favor of Our Lord’s values. Is nothing new. The pagan Romans viewed the early Christians as “enemies of humanity” and a danger to society because we rejected the vicious (in the sense of “vice filled”) practices they accepted as normal. Any government which finds our moral stance to be a barrier to what they want to do will find a way to label us as an enemy of the state, being cheered along by the crowds.

Christians to the lions

Of course, we must make sure our behavior as Christians is worthy of Our Lord. We have to love and bless those who hate us, and rebuke those extremists who confuse the teaching of what is right with the hatred of those who do wrong. And there will be extremists out there. When something offensive is done, there will always be a small percentage among the offended who think an unjust response is acceptable—and the greater the offense, the larger the amount offended and a corresponding larger number of extremists. We must urge them to remember that we may not do evil to those who wrong us.

So, we will no do evil, but, we will not surrender doing what is right before God either, because we must obey God, rather than men. We cannot "burn the pinch of incense” that society demands to get along. So, just as we did after Roe v. Wade, we will refuse to accept the validity of the Supreme Court decision. We will work to bring a fallen society back to Christ. In doing so, we will reject the charge of “hatred” towards those who hate us. We may be fired, fined, sued or imprisoned. We may find the Supreme Court will invent a “workaround” to evade the First Amendment and justify direct attacks on denominations they despise. But despite that, we will continue to love those we are called to teach the truth about how God calls us to live.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Thoughts on (Lack of) Separation of Church and State in Modern America



One of the more bizarre behaviors of people who say they support a total separation of Church and State is that they seem either ignorant or indifferent to the fact that it is a perversion of both the Constitution and the intent of the founding fathers at the time.

Then, the concern was to prevent the state from encroaching on the churches the way it had been done in Europe and the early days of the 13 Colonies, where the government could pass laws to hinder religions (often Catholics) and compel people to support religions they did not believe were right. For example, Catholics could be fined for refusing to attend the Anglican Church, and in England it was a death sentence to be a Catholic Priest. In some of the colonies, priests were banned. At that time, religions favored by the colonies, like England, were supported by taxes, where refusal to pay would result in legal sanctions.

So, when looking at that context, it becomes clear as to why the Constitution defines religious freedom as one of the freedoms of expression in the First Amendment—one which lists areas the government is forbidden to interfere with. The churches were to be free to do what they believed they were morally obligated to do, with no coercion by tax or by government law.

But, by the fact that it is listed with the rest of the Freedoms (Speech, Press, assembly, petition over grievances), it shows that this amendment was never intended to be interpreted as restricting religion from having a role in the public life of the citizens. People who speak, write, assemble and petition the government have values based on their religious beliefs, and there is no reason for thinking they cannot do these things with a religious motive.

The Modern Government View is a Perversion

But the way government operates today, what we have is a perversion of the original intent. The government is imposing laws and taxes that demand that schools and hospitals affiliated with a religious denomination fund things that they find offensive. The contraception mandate was a major red flag. Now the current attack is in defining same-sex relationships as “marriage” and, with increasing aggression, is insisting that these institutions affiliated with churches accept them as marriages as well—even though they run afoul of what the churches think they must do.

At the same time, the state increasingly legislates in matters long held to be issues of morality, and when the churches assert their rights to teach on these issues, they are accused of violating the “wall of Church and State.” Ultimately what this means is the churches will have a diminishing range of things it can talk about, while the state will have an increasing range of things it can legislate in regards to religion.

Just imagine if the government approached the rest of the First Amendment freedoms in this way. What if they said that while individuals had freedom of speech, groups did not? Think that’s ridiculous? Think again. In term of religion, the government is trying to argue that the business run by a person does not have “religious freedom” so, even though the owner thinks X is a sin, the state can decree that the business must support X.

Basically, the courts and the current administration is assuming that no laws based on religious values can be binding in law. The practical result of this is that the only values which laws can be based on are secular values. But that’s preferential treatment for a certain philosophy which is often hostile to religion. In insisting on laws being based de facto on making a law respecting an establishment of religion (or, the philosophy which denies a place to religion), or prohibiting the free exercise thereof (by preventing individuals with religious beliefs from living all aspects of their life free of government diktat.

Now compare this to what Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786 in the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.

The man who coined the term “wall of separation” expected that the freedom of religion would prevent any person from having their civil capabilities impaired—which includes running a business.

The Catholic Concept of Religious Freedom

Now, compare the current mess America is in with what the Catholic Church said in the Vatican II Document Dignitatis humanae:

2. This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.


The council further declares that the right to religious freedom has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself. This right of the human person to religious freedom is to be recognized in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right.


It is in accordance with their dignity as persons-that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility-that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature. In consequence, the right to this immunity continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it and the exercise of this right is not to be impeded, provided that just public order be observed.

This is a very reasonable stance to take. It prevents coercion from individuals and groups, public or private with the intent of forcing a person to act in a manner contrary to their belief. That means the government can’t force individuals or groups to do what is contrary to their beliefs—and neither can mobs of public opinion (as they did with Brendan Eich—his religious freedom was violated and the government failed in protecting it).

The main difference between the Church view of religious freedom and the American distortion is that the Church recognizes that the freedom of religion comes with the responsibility to seek out and follow the truth (DH #3):

3. Further light is shed on the subject if one considers that the highest norm of human life is the divine law-eternal, objective and universal-whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever more fully the truth that is unchanging. Wherefore every man has the duty, and therefore the right, to seek the truth in matters religious in order that he may with prudence form for himself right and true judgments of conscience, under use of all suitable means.


Truth, however, is to be sought after in a manner proper to the dignity of the human person and his social nature. The inquiry is to be free, carried on with the aid of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue, in the course of which men explain to one another the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in order thus to assist one another in the quest for truth.


Moreover, as the truth is discovered, it is by a personal assent that men are to adhere to it.

This is also crucial. We have to be free to speak the truth if people are going to be able to live in accordance with it. It recognizes that people have to accept the truth personally, and not have someone else discover it and then force you to do what you think is wrong.

But, when the government rules that God’s law may not be taught in places where anyone objects to hearing something they might disagree with, and that laws proposed by shared religious belief are labeled unconstitutional, we have a government which is claiming it knows the truth and is compelling people with religious beliefs to deny what they believe is true and give assent to the government decision.

Opposing a Lobotomized or Double Standard View on the “Separation of Church and State"

That’s why the modern version of the “wall of separation” is asinine. In claiming laws, which are formed from people with a shared religious understanding of right and wrong, are unconstitutional, they deny people the right to exercise their civil capacities to promote what is right, while at the same time, people with a non-religious or anti-religious view have no similar handicap. That’s a de facto intrusion by the government in saying they have the authority to determine what is right or wrong—and they have decided that religion is wrong.


So here’s something to consider. If a person believes in a strict separation of Church and State, why do they permit the State to violate that wall? Why is it OK for the state to say, “you must do this in spite of your religious teaching,” when no Founding Father ever intended the 1st Amendment to be understood this way? Surely a person who holds this with the intent of keeping the Church from having any influence on the State must recognize that it cuts both ways, and see that the State can have no influence on the Church either . . . which creates a lobotomized country.

But both the concept of the lobotomized country and the concept of the wall of separation going one way create a country unable to seek out the truth. All a government has to do to silence something it dislikes is to label it “religious.” Just keep in mind that many of those opposing slavery and segregation did so out of “religious motives.” If the government thought then like it does today, they could have negated laws outlawing both on the grounds they were “religious” and therefore a violation of the “establishment clause."

The only sane way for religious freedom to work is to recognize that all people (including politicians) have the obligation to seek out and follow the truth, and the churches do have the authority and obligation to speak out on what is right. A majority of voters can use their religious beliefs as a motivation in voting for laws—while being careful to respect the rights of religious minorities who disagree. At the same time, the state has the responsibility to promote the public good. As DH #7 puts it:

7. The right to religious freedom is exercised in human society: hence its exercise is subject to certain regulatory norms. In the use of all freedoms the moral principle of personal and social responsibility is to be observed. In the exercise of their rights, individual men and social groups are bound by the moral law to have respect both for the rights of others and for their own duties toward others and for the common welfare of all. Men are to deal with their fellows in justice and civility.


Furthermore, society has the right to defend itself against possible abuses committed on the pretext of freedom of religion. It is the special duty of government to provide this protection. However, government is not to act in an arbitrary fashion or in an unfair spirit of partisanship. Its action is to be controlled by juridical norms which are in conformity with the objective moral order. These norms arise out of the need for the effective safeguard of the rights of all citizens and for the peaceful settlement of conflicts of rights, also out of the need for an adequate care of genuine public peace, which comes about when men live together in good order and in true justice, and finally out of the need for a proper guardianship of public morality.


These matters constitute the basic component of the common welfare: they are what is meant by public order. For the rest, the usages of society are to be the usages of freedom in their full range: that is, the freedom of man is to be respected as far as possible and is not to be curtailed except when and insofar as necessary.

An Example on How Freedom of Religion Can Work

Some try to offer up the challenge of, “But if what if people want to impose sharia law?” Given such an imposition would have no respect for the people who do not believe Islam is true or for Muslims who choose to leave their faith, such an imposition would be contrary to religious freedom and thus be part of the state’s responsibility to defend against abuses. 

But, even though we recognize that sharia is contrary to religious freedom, that doesn’t permit the government to crack down on Islamic practices that don’t violate the freedom of religion. For those Muslims who choose to follow their beliefs without coercion, they should be free to follow the beliefs that they believe to be right. Likewise Catholic or Jewish beliefs. If believers can convince enough people that their view on what should be a law is a good one, people can vote for it, ensuring that it doesn’t force others to do that which they think is evil.


When one looks at the Catholic beliefs—actual beliefs, not what people wrongly think they are—one can see that they are not forcing their views on others who are unwilling to follow them. When she teaches on the fact that the unborn fetus is a living person, and convinces people that this is truth, the laws that result are not forcing people to do what they think is evil. When the Church teaches that marriage is only possible between one man and one woman and convinces people that this is the truth, they are not violating people’s rights when laws are passed on the basis of this truth. (See Here and Here for an analysis on why the “civil rights” arguments are false).

But, when the state tries to force a business run by a Catholic or an institution affiliated with the Catholic Church to do something that goes against Catholic teaching, that is violating their religious rights not to something they think is evil.

The truth of the matter is this: What we have in America today is a perversion of the concept of freedom. So long as the government continues to think this way, it will continue to be violating our constitutional rights.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Constitutional Freedom and Its Enemies

It's very troubling that a sales clerk ... who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer's health care plan because her employer doesn't think she should be using contraception.” (Hillary Clinton)

"The thought of your boss telling you what kind of birth control you can and can't get is offensive and it certainly is motivating to women to vote…" (Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund.)

clintons-colorado 72271812EA195_Glamour_Magaz

Hillary Clinton (Left) and Cecile Richards (Right) believe that the religious employer, or the private employer with religious beliefs, who thinks they are not allowed to support something that is morally wrong must set aside their religious beliefs in favor of political ideologies.

Here's the problem. The ruling doesn't let the boss say what kind of contraceptives you can use. The ruling let's the boss say, "You may choose to use contraceptives, but don't expect me to violate my conscience by giving them to you. "

That's the problem with the outrage against the ruling. The propaganda is trying to make it sound like EvilCorp is trying to control women. But the EvilCorps of the nation really don't care and probably have no problems with providing it--especially if the long term results means lower costs because of no pregnancy costs and children to cover.

The truth is, the corporations who support this ruling are basically religious organizations and corporations run by families—who are incorporated because the tax rules require them to do so. They were established by people who held to a certain idea of what Christian morality requires them to do.

Unfortunately the law is unjust. Restrictions are made on any religious based group that does not limit itself to members of the same religion. But that's ludicrous when a Catholic institution helps all people who come to a hospital, university or charity regardless of their beliefs . . . and has done so since long before the United States of America was even established.

The outrage over the decision basically declares that if someone or some religious group needs to organize into a corporation for tax and liability purposes, they forfeit their religious rights. But since the corporation is made up of persons, the laws made concerning a corporation will affect people who run them. People like Richards and Hillary Clinton try to obscure this fact.

The actions of Clinton and Richards remind us that the danger to our freedoms is very real. They appear to believe that the Freedom of Religion is trumped by a "right" which is not in the Constitution. It actually works quite the opposite. Our Freedom of Religion protects us from "rights" invented by politicians . . . they protect us from politicians who decide they want all people to provide support for their views even if some people find that these laws force them to go against what their religious faith obliges.

Remember this . . . and remember that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court Ruling: End of an Error?

Back in January, 2012 I first wrote on the announced HHS mandate. It was an appalling realization that our government actually preferred to place its ideology over the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution and was willing to force their decision.

In the 2 1/2 years since I wrote about this violation of the Constitution, we've witnessed the Church vilified because she stood up against the kulturkampf by the state and the cultural elites.

This morning, we heard from the Supreme Court. I admit that I was surprised. After the Court's position on the defense of marriage, I wasn't expecting a just ruling.

But we got one. So, now we can relax,  right?

Not quite yet. The ruling answered some of our concerns, but the role of Church run universities, hospitals, charities, and self-insured Catholic businesses is still in question. Catholic religious orders, institutions and businesses still have concerns to be addressed.

Also the ruling was based on the RFRA, not the Constitution. So if a future Supreme Court strikes it down, what we have we can lose. Remember DOMA was struck down, and judges across the country are using that bad decision to overturn laws protecting traditional marriage

As the old saying goes, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

That means continuing to pray and continuing to work—in the short term for just decisions. In the long term for conversion of America.

There's no time to be slacking off. This is where our work begins, not ends.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pontius Pilate Rides Again


Depending on which movie version you see about Jesus, the character of Pontius Pilate who condemned Him to death has a wide range of personalities. They range from the man trying to free Jesus, but gets thwarted at every turn to the callous, indifferent man who only cares about keeping order.

These different movie portrayals tend to miss one major point... that Pontius Pilate knew he was being asked to allow a gross miscarriage of justice over a person who he knew was innocent to satisfy people he knew wanted Him silenced for selfish reasons.  Not only that, but Pilate had the power to prevent this gross miscarriage of justice, but refused to use it, because he feared repercussions might affect him personally.

In the news lately, we seem to see many things in the news that seems to show that the mindset of Pontius Pilate is alive and well.

The Supreme Court

Today the Supreme Court, faced with the possibility of reversing an injustice created by the New Mexico where a person can be compelled to take part in a so-called "gay marriage" against his or her beliefs on the grounds that to do so was discrimination.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case,  setting a precedent other states can use to similarly force people to act against what they believe is right. They had the legal authority to make this right, and refused.


Last week, Mozilla, when faced with a digital mob trying to oust a man for supporting a Proposition protecting the traditional understanding of marriage, chose to encourage his resignation and offered an apology to the mob because this man believed that it was the right thing to do.

For all of Mozilla's weasel words claiming they tried to save Eich's job, the fact still remains that Mozilla had the power to call the bigotry what it was and tell the mob that Eich had just as much freedom as they did to support what he believed was right.

Instead they thought his behavior (done when even Obama claimed to support traditional marriage) was something reprehensible  and needed to be apologized for by the company.


There are many different ways to stand up for what is right. Some of them may involve personal inconvenience, maybe even persecution.  But when it comes down to choosing between comfort and right, a person needs to choose what is right.

To do otherwise is to follow the path of Pontius Pilate, refusing to do right and washing one's hands of the whole affair.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Judicial Abuse Through Lack of Logic

I came across an article talking about a Federal judge striking down abortion restrictions. The article points out that the judge claims abortion restrictions violate the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, saying it "impermissibly infringes a woman's Fourteenth Amendment right to elect to terminate a pregnancy before viability".

Now the relevant part of the Constitution is section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So, abortion is defined as a right protected under the Constitution while using a judicial ruling to define abortion as a right (continuing the begging the question fallacy used since Roe v. Wade).

Yet, when it comes to an actual right defined in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The right of a business owner to practice his freedom of religion in not participating in the HHS Contraception Mandate or in not recognizing or participating in so-called "gay marriage" is very much in question.

Thus, we have an inconsistency:

■ The Constitutional Right to abortion is presumed to exist when it in fact needs to be proven.
■ The Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion is presumed to need to be proven when it actually exists.

What our courts are doing in America is to give certain popular views the illusion of being Constitutional while ignoring certain unpopular views even though they have been recognized in the Constitution.

Such behavior is properly called arbitrary:

■ adjective
1based on random choice or personal whim.
2(of power or a ruling body) autocratic.

Christians can justifiably object to both the enshrining of abortion as a "Constitutional Right" when it is merely a judicial ipse dixit claiming it is, and object to the denial of religious freedom.  

However, the judicial activists can't. If they insist on protecting the fictional right to abortion, they are certainly bound to protect the actual right to religious freedom.

The implications are staggering:
■ Judges declare what they favor are "rights."
■ Judges refuse to protect rights they dislike.

There can be no justice when the judges behave in this manner.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reflections on The Constitution, The Supreme Court and Justice

Much of the political debate going around today is based on the idea that because the Constitution permits a thing, there can be no complaint against it.  Setting aside for the moment specific issues of dispute in America, the theory ignores one crucial question:

Can the Constitution (or an interpretation of it) err or be unjust?

I believe the answer can clearly be yes to both.  I recall in High School civics class that the Constitution can be amended if a problem is perceived.  Certainly before 1865, the Constitution was flawed in that it denied citizenship to certain parts of the population simply on the basis of the color of their skin.

This shows the problem when certain politicians rally around the "Constitutional" Right of the woman to choose [abortion].  The right may be decreed constitutional by the Supreme Court, but neither it, nor the right to privacy it is based on can be found in the Constitution.

If the interpreters of the Constitution are unjust, it follows that the interpretations they give can be unjust.  This kind of rhetoric goes on frequently.  Today, there is a dispute over whether Obamacare is constitutional.  Nine years ago, there was a dispute over whether the Supreme Court "unjustly installed" George W. Bush as president.

What this demonstrates is [Regardless of whether the charges are true or not], we do have interpreters of the US Constitution whose decisions are binding and not able to be appealed.  If they are unjust in their decisions, there is very little we can do to stop them.

This isn't mere theory.  The Supreme Court has made some historically bad decisions and have been forced to contradict previous precedent, such as the Dred Scott case and Plessy vs. Ferguson.

I believe this shows that the Supreme Court can give an interpretation which they call Constitutional, but is also unjust.

This demonstrates that to invoke the Constitutionality of a law is no evidence as to whether or not it is just.

On Justice

However, justice in law is what separates the good forms of government from the immoral forms of government, and here the person who argues against any moral absolutes have hamstrung themselves when opposing injustice.

Justice can be defined as giving to another their due, and behaving in right conduct with other people.  All human persons are considered to have human rights simply on the basis of their being human.  Each person is entitled to the due of not being treated in a subhuman condition.  In America we have in the Bill of Rights which assumes all people have certain rights.

The Catholic Church speaks of justice between men as follows:

1929 Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:

What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt.35

1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church's role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.

In other words, because a person is human they possess certain rights independent of the government, and no government can take them away without being unjust.  Moreover, any government which denies these rights lacks moral legitimacy to their rule, and can only use force to make their decrees followed.

The Difference Between the Constitution and Justice

Whether or not the Constitution, or its interpretation, can be considered as possessing moral authority depends on whether it respects the human person or not.  If it does not respect the human person, the law may be binding by force, but it is not a law which we are morally obligated to follow, and in fact are morally obligated to oppose.

The Abortion Example

In 1973, the Supreme Court decreed abortion legal, and since then we have been told that it is based in the Constitutional Right to Privacy, which is not in the Constitution, and was not described as a right until 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut.  This invokes the Ninth Amendment, which is a circular argument which one can dismantle with a reductio ad absurdum.  [The Constitution doesn't say I can't murder anyone either, therefore I have a constitutional right to do so].

Now, one can argue that the right to privacy is a basic right which precedes the Constitution.  However, this overlooks a crucial consideration: Are the unborn human persons?  If so, then their right to life precedes the Constitutional Supreme Court Right to abortion.

The Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade entirely ignores this consideration, when it declares:

3. State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.

This is entirely a circular argument, which assumes what it needs to prove: That a woman does in fact have the right to terminate a pregnancy.  It calls the unborn a potential life, but this is to be proven, not assumed to be true.

Indeed, without proving the fact that the fetus is not a person, the Supreme Court appears to have violated the 14th amendment:

1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Emphasis added)

If the assumption that the fetus is merely a potential human being is false, then the Supreme Court has created a situation where the unborn are denied the equal protection under the law.

The Roe v. Wade decision relies on an irrelevant appeal to past decisions of legal precedent, which selectively chooses certain examples and ignores others.  The reason it is an irrelevant appeal is that many of the precedents they cite are based on the scientifically erroneous ideas of quickening of the fetus, ignoring later medical advances.  From this we see the argument that since the actual forbidding of abortion in America was based on the fact that outright forbidding of abortion did not exist until the 19th century in America.

However, this is an argument from silence.  "We don't know of laws forbidding abortion until the 19th century.  Therefore it was permissible before then."  That laws were made in the 19th century does not prove that abortion was acceptable before.  Positive evidence that the nation, prior to the 19th century, sanctioned abortion is necessary.

Even from this, it does not follow that abortion is right.  To judge abortion as being morally neutral, it has to be established that the fetus is not alive.  If the fetus is a human person, it contains human rights which precede the laws of the United States.

The Quadrilemma of abortion

A right to abortion requires us to create some categories.  First, whether or not the fetus is a human person.  It either is or it is not.  Second, we need to determine whether we know this to be true.  This leaves us with four categories:

  1. The unborn is a human person and we know it.
  2. The unborn is not a human person and we know it
  3. The unborn is a human person and we do not know it
  4. The unborn is not a human person and we do not know it

In these four cases, we have three levels of guilt or innocence.

  1. In the case of us knowing the unborn is a human person, government sanctioned abortion is the murder of a human person.
  2. In the case of us knowing the unborn is not a human person, there is no problem with abortion.
  3. In not knowing whether or not the unborn is a human person (cases 3 and 4), abortion becomes a reckless, grossly negligent act.

We can demonstrate these cases with another scenario.  You and a friend are deer hunting, and get separated.  You hear motion in the bush.  There are four possibilities:

  1. The movement is caused by your friend and you know it
  2. The movement is caused by a deer and you know it
  3. The movement is caused by your friend and you do not know it
  4. The movement is caused by a deer and you do not know it

When is it legitimate to shoot?  Only in case two.  Why?

  1. In case 1, shooting when you know it is a person is willed murder
  2. In case 2, shooting when you verified you can shoot safely is morally acceptable
  3. In case 3, you are guilty of gross negligence and manslaughter at the very least
  4. In case 4, you are still guilty of gross negligence.

Yet, instead of proving when the human person begins, the Supreme Court acts with gross negligence.  it "fires into the bush" without verifying the target, when it argues:

A. The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, [410 U.S. 113, 157] for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. 51 On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument 52 that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Whether or not past law has made a statement on whether or not the fetus is a person has no bearing on whether the fetus IS a human person.  To assume that the fetus is not a human person based on interpretations of the 14th Amendment is an evasion of the issue, when it says:

All this, together with our observation, supra, that throughout the major portion of the 19th century prevailing legal abortion practices were far freer than they are today, persuades us that the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn.

This is an appeal to irrelevant authority fallacy.  Does the lack of laws that declare the fetus a person make it so?

Dangerous Precedents

Certain nations, including the United States, have at certain times determined that certain human beings were not persons on the basis of their ethnicity.  The most extreme example is that of Nazi Germany with its claiming that Jews and Slavs were subhumans which lacked human rights.  We are of course horrified by the actions the Germans justified by a legal claim.  Through a legal ruling, human persons were terribly mistreated.

Now of course Nazi Germany was an extreme example.  However, the United States once considered the blacks to be less than fully human, and such a view was upheld by the Supreme Court.  Under the logic of Roe v. Wade past precedent could be used to deny any African American was a "human person."  After all, before 1865, there were no laws which held that view.  It instead took a war and some amendments to overturn the bad logic of the Supreme Court.

Constitutional Is Not the Same as Just: QED

We are back to the beginning, and the conclusion is clear.  Just because the Supreme Court or the Constitution says a thing is constitutional has no bearing on whether a thing is just.  So despite what the Supreme Court says, it still must be assessed as to whether it is just or not.  If it is not just, it must be opposed.

Yet, the whole problem is a thing is not defended as just, it is merely called "Constitutional" as if that was all the sanction which was needed.

Unfortunately, in America, there is little recourse to an unjust ruling by the Supreme Court.  It is the state legislatures which can vote for a proposed amendment (which first requires 2/3 of both House and Senate to vote in favor of a proposed amendment), not the people (unless the states call ratifying conventions… which happened once).

So where does this leave the Christian who feels he must oppose an unjust ruling?

An Unjust Law is not a Law

One may want to ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all"

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

—Martin Luther King Jr.  Letter from a Birmingham Jail

This is ultimately what must put the Christian unwillingly in conflict with the government of the United States at times.  When the government decrees that it is permissible to degrade the human person, we must speak out against it, not bowing the knee to the unjust law… even if it comes from the Supreme Court or the Constitution itself.

However, there is a limit to what we can do.  If it comes to a choice between doing evil and suffering evil, we must choose the suffering of evil, as we may not choose an evil means to achieve the desired end.  Nor can we participate with the evil law.

So, in short, our opposition to injustice must be done in keeping with making a Christian witness.