Violate your vows, or pay up. That’s essentially what the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals told the Little Sisters of the Poor and their attorneys last week. We’ve seen the same mentality over and over lately. Back in 2013, the Attorney General of Virginia took it upon himself to sue a florist who refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding due to religious beliefs.
This sounds eerily like what the Koran and Sharia Law command. Believe what we believe or pay the tax. Yep. If you deviate from the beliefs of Islam and want to continue breathing air and holding onto your religious beliefs, according to the Koran, and Islamic law, you must pay the jizya, or tax. That’s a sobering thought isn’t it?
Hey, it’s working pretty well for ISIS. They managed to get a bunch of Christians to pay up or die.
Without courts that uphold our Constitutional rights to worship (or not to worship) we are simply sitting ducks for the next bunch of lunatics who come along and want to force us into their idea of godliness or godlessness.
The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, whose fund attorneys are representing the Little Sisters, released a press release earlier this month confirming the court decision.
Reimagining the First Amendment:
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) says the 1st Amendment’s religious liberty protections don’t apply to individuals.
On MSNBC last week, Wisconsin’s junior Senator claimed that the Constitution’s protection of the free exercise of religion extends only to religious institutions, and that individual’s do not have a right to the free exercise of their own religion.
The exact quote form Senator Baldwin is somewhat less dramatic but more worrisome:
Certainly the first amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs. But I don’t think it extends far beyond that. We’ve seen the set of arguments play out in issues such as access to contraception. Should it be the individual pharmacist whose religious beliefs guides whether a prescription is filled, or in this context, they’re talking about expanding this far beyond our churches and synagogues to businesses and individuals across this country. I think there are clear limits that have been set in other contexts and we ought to abide by those in this new context across America.
So you can have freedom of religion in Sen. Baldwin’s America, you just have avoid talking about your religious views in public. It’s a definition of freedom so narrow it could easily fit within the confines of an authoritarian state. Even the nominally communist oligarchs who rule China don’t really care what you think, so long as you don’t offend the party with your words.
What is being established, under the cover of the gay marriage debate, is a new set of hate crime laws directed at Americans of faith. The Left has done a superb job of framing this issue as one about the rights of homosexuals. This automatically paints any critics as bigots regardless of their personal values or beliefs. Once the dust settles gay marriage will be an established legal and cultural fact. What will become apparent shortly thereafter is that freedom of speech has been dramatically narrowed in modern America.
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According to a recent AP-GFK poll, support for gay marriage among U.S. citizens has dropped six percentage points since their last poll in April, with more Americans disapproving of the Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage the law of the land than those approving it.
Rather than galvanizing Americans into a unified body, the Obergefell decision has left U.S. citizens more divided than ever on the question of gay marriage, after the court itself showed a deep divide on the issue. In an unprecedented move, the four opposing justices each published an independent dissent, leaving a mine of legal reasoning contrary to the majority opinion.
The AP poll reveals that 42% of Americans favor legal gay marriage, while a similar poll carried out last April showed 48% in favor. Moreover, in conflicts between the interests of same-sex couples and those of religious liberty, a majority of Americans (56%) believe that government should rule in favor of religious freedom.
Specifically, more Americans believe that local officials with religious objections should be exempted from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, with 49% siding with the exemption and 47% saying they should be obliged to comply with the law. Moreover, an increasing number of U.S. citizens believe that wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples. Whereas in April 52% thought they should be accorded this option, the number was up to 59% in the recent poll.
“What the Supreme Court did is jeopardize our religious freedoms,” said Michael Boehm, 61, an industrial controls engineer from the Detroit area who describes himself as a conservative-leaning independent.
There is a disturbance in American politics. But no one in the political class seems to be pinpointing the correct source.
Donald Trump gets all of the credit for it from journalists, pundits and academics. They could not be more wrong.
They are looking only at the surface, seeing the response to his harangues as an affirmation of the man. If they looked beyond the cartoonish image of Trump, they would understand that the true disturbance is the frustration of Americans, not the bluster of one man.
Americans are just tired of it all. Tired of no one speaking honestly to them, tired of being told they cannot speak honestly.
And don’t even think about expressing your values if those are outside the elite’s standard of everyone deserving equality and fairness (unless, of course, you disagree with that elitist viewpoint, in which case hatred and character destruction are your reward).
No accountability, no transparency — just a pattern of bureaucratic failure that has cost lives and has fueled anger against government.
This is the tip of the iceberg. If you are “out here” — outside Washington, outside of the coastal elites — you are overwhelmed by the incompetency; if you are “inside” those, you don’t understand folks’ skepticism about everything related to government, including cutting a deal with Iran.
When CBS News reporter Major Garrett pressed President Obama at a news conference last week, asking why American hostages in Iran weren’t addressed in the nuclear arms “deal,” the president was insulted that someone would interrupt his victory lap. Garrett’s peers, supposedly all balanced, hard-nosed journalists paid to ask tough questions, retreated predictably; they failed to practice good journalism by pressing the president on that point, perhaps because they are cloistered in their polarized world.
Donald Trump is going nowhere in this election cycle; neither is Bernie Sanders. But there is nothing wrong about the nomination races being a spectacle right now, because it demonstrates the volume of unrest among people looking for leadership.
Populism is lightning in a bottle. It is always bottom-up and always about people looking for a leader, not a circus barker leading a parade of tigers and jugglers on a small-town promenade.
Trump and Sanders are reflections of the unrest, not the leaders we are seeking.
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Congress should abolish the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court — and all federal courts — over cases involving state laws defining marriage. The result would be that states would immediately be free to reinstate laws defining marriage in the traditional manner, if they so wish. Same-sex marriage advocates would be free to challenge those laws, but they would do so in state court, and the final judicial decision would rest with the Supreme Court of each state.
Can Congress do that? Yes. Under Article III of the Constitution, the appellate jurisdiction of federal courts (including the Supreme Court) is entirely subject to congressional regulation. In fact, the very existence of every federal court (except the Supreme Court) is a matter of congressional discretion. Over the years, Congress has expanded and contracted federal appellate jurisdiction in various ways.
In the 1980s there were a number of proposals to restrict federal appellate jurisdiction over cases involving abortion, school busing, and other issues (one advocate of this strategy was a young Reagan administration lawyer named John Roberts!), but back then the House was under Democratic control. By the time the GOP controlled both houses and the presidency, it seems that the fervor for jurisdiction stripping had died down. But now it must be renewed afresh — and if we get a Republican in the White House, this might just become a reality (as distinct from proposed constitutional amendments on marriage, which have very little chance of success).
But there is one strategy that would allow Congress to roll back Obergefell without amending the Constitution or privatizing marriage. It’s called “jurisdiction stripping,” and it involves nothing more than Congress’s exercising its constitutional authority to define the limits of federal judicial power. The idea of using Congress to rein in activist judges is not new; in fact, it was once advocated by a young lawyer in the Reagan administration named John Roberts. In 1981, decades before he became chief justice and a dissenter in Obergefell, Roberts, then a special assistant to Attorney General William French Smith, wrote a 27-page memo marshaling the arguments in favor of Congress’s power to control the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over issues like abortion and school busing.
Congress should listen to the young John Roberts and abolish the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court — and all federal courts — over cases involving state laws defining marriage. At the moment, such legislation would require a two-thirds majority to overcome President Obama’s inevitable veto. But come January 20, 2017, if there is a Republican in the White House, jurisdiction-stripping legislation could become a reality. Every GOP presidential candidate should commit to signing such a bill the moment it crosses his or her desk.
The jurisdiction of federal courts is almost entirely a matter of congressional discretion. The Constitution creates only one court — the Supreme Court — and then gives Congress the power to “ordain and establish” lower federal courts as it sees fit. Since Congress has no obligation to create lower federal courts in the first place, it has every right to limit the jurisdiction of those courts it chooses to create.
The existence of competing interpretations of federal law has not brought the republic down. Likewise, returning marriage law to state courts would not harm the country, and it might just save us from a new, ugly chapter in the culture wars.
An Ohio judge refused to conduct a same-sex marriage in his court this week, the latest instance of local officials refusing marriages on religious grounds in the weeks after the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.
Toledo Municipal Judge Allen McConnell, who was in the midst of a three-week stint performing civil ceremonies, refused to marry Carolyn Wilson and her partner on Monday.
“I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment,” McConnell said in a statement. “The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.”
The judge also said he’s asked the Ohio Supreme Court whether he can opt out of the rotation to avoid violating his religious beliefs.
A court administrator told Reuters that Wilson and her partner’s wedding was the first same-sex ceremony the court had been asked to perform. The couple was married by another judge after McConnell refused.
An Alabama judge had stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether after the Supreme Court ruling. A number of clerks in Kentucky have also refused to grant licenses to gay couples, citing religious belief in “traditional” marriages.
Indeed, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission has declared that prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity “sometimes” apply to churches and has stated that a “church service open to the public” is not a “bona fide religious purpose” that would limit application of the law. In 2012 a New Jersey administrative-law judge ruled that a religious organization “closely associated with the United Methodist Church” wrongly denied access to its facilities for a same-sex wedding.
Churches, like virtually every functioning corporation, protect against liability risks and the potentially ruinous costs of litigation through liability insurance. With same-sex marriage now recognized as a constitutional right — and with news of Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries awarding a lesbian couple $135,000 in damages for “emotional, mental and physical suffering” after a Christian bakery refused to bake their wedding cake — pastors are reaching out to insurance companies to make sure they’re covered. And at least one insurer has responded with a preemptory denial: no coverage if a church is sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding.
On July 1, David Karns, vice president of underwriting at Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company (which “serve[s] more than 8,400 churches”), wrote an “all states” agents’ bulletin addressing same-sex marriage. It begins: “We have received numerous calls and emails regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriages. The main concern is whether or not liability coverage applies in the event a church gets sued for declining to perform a same-sex marriage.” Karns continues:
The general liability form does not provide any coverage for this type of situation, since there is no bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, or advertising injury. If a church is concerned about the possibility of a suit, we do offer Miscellaneous Legal Defense Coverage. This is not liability coverage, but rather expense reimbursement for defense costs. There is no coverage for any judgments against an insured.
In other words: Churches, you’re on your own. (National Review has tried to reach Mr. Karns and Southern Mutual’s corporate office, and they have not yet returned our calls.)
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They want Thomas and Young silenced, stripped of their status in their peer group, and to recant—even after being defeated in public on the issue at hand.
That’s terrifying, because it means that for a fair number of people in what’s supposed to be a democracy, “winning” in any normal political sense simply isn’t enough. They are not really trying to capture something as pedestrian as political equality, nor are they satisfied if they get it. They are not really seeking a win in the courts, or a legal solution, or a negotiated settlement. Those are all just merit badges to be collected along the way to a more important goal: what they really want, and what they in fact demand, is that you agree with them. They want you to believe.
It is not enough for these Americans to say: “I have had my day in court and prevailed.” In effect, they now add: “You do not have the right to hold a different opinion, even if you lose in the public arena. You may not hold on to your belief as a minority view, or even as a private thought. And if you persist and still disagree, I will attack you without quarter and set others on you to deprive you of your status in your profession, of your standing in your community, and even of your livelihood.”
This attitude promises social warfare without end, because there is no peace to be had until the opposing side offers a sincere and unconditional surrender. It means that the people on the Left taking bakers to court, de-Africanizing Justice Thomas, and making Young an accomplice to rape will not be satisfied with winning. For the new totalitarians, prevailing in the courts or at the ballot boxes isn’t enough if there’s still a suspicion that anyone, anywhere, might still be committing thoughtcrime.
Most of all, they do not want you, Present Reader, to even think about agreeing with people like Thomas or Young. By attacking everyone in the public sphere from judges to writers, they’re sending a clear warning that there’s plenty of room in the bonfire. It is a vow that you will be held to account for your personal thoughts, even if you’ve already been defeated in a democratic or judicial contest.
No, even after losing, you will be forced to admit the error of your ways. You must accept that you’ve sinned. You must discard your own values and accept the ideas of your betters. You must denounce yourself for undermining the construction of a better world.
You, too, must love Big Brother.
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