Friday, September 16, 2005

The Liberal Activist Judges Must Go

by Conrad Spencer

I've had it with the liberal activist judges.

Not because I disagree with their decisions, mind you. I simply disagree with their timing.

On Wednesday, a judge with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Pledge of Allegiance, as currently written, is unconstitutional. The same ruling brought a similar outcry three years ago. That case was thrown out because the father who brought the case did not have custody of his daughter. The Supreme Court never ruled on the central issue, but now, with additional plaintiffs in hand, they get a second chance.

That's unfortunate, because no good will come of this, meaningless wedge issue that it is.

This is not a victory of the separation of church and state crowd, or for any liberal cause. This is a rallying cry and a fundraising tool for the right. This is yet more evidence that liberals are out of touch with mainstream America and downright hostile to religion.

Rather than moving a cause forward, untimely court decisions that exceed the will of the legislature and people -- even if those decisions are legitimate readings of the law -- tend to force us two steps back.

In the wake of the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that gay marriage cannot be prohibited under that state's constitution, a flurry of states -- 18 and counting -- amended their constitutions to expressly forbid gay marriage. Rather than being a victory for gay rights, the decision set the movement back years, and was used to rally the conservative troops and turn out the church vote in the 2004 elections.

Granted, court decisions in the '50s and '60s were able to move civil rights forward, though it often required the strong arm of the National Guard.

But we shouldn't take this as a victory for the church crowd, either. The Supreme Court will likely overturn the ruling, but based on precedent that belittles religion in the public sphere.

In the 1984 case Lynch v. Donnelly, the court found that the annual nativity scene of the town of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was not in violation of the Establishment Clause. In a dissenting, Justice Brennan disagreed on the constitutionality of the nativity scene, but also added, "I would suggest that such practices as the designation of 'In God We Trust' as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form a 'ceremonial deism,' protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content."

So, cursory references to God are OK because they are, in effect, meaningless.

Wow, what a victory for Christ.


At 12:27 AM, Blogger Larry Mondello said...

It will cause a big stink, then get overturned and be forgotten. But, you're right, the right will shreik and yell in the meantime and raise money. Meanwhile, in the middle of the country, I was in my daughter's middle school classroom the other day and saw TWO versions of the ten commandments on display. By the way, the new cardboard version of Moses' tablets suitable for framing in the classroom offer some interesting condensing. For example: one of the commandments simply read: "Thou shall not covet..." A good catch-all that means you can't covet your neighbor's wife, his car OR his IPOD.

(sorry for deleted comments, I am having some computer problems)

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

You've hit the nail right on the head with this post, Chase. As a liberal, this non-issue just irks the hell out of me, for exactly the reasons you mentioned.

Plus, I've alway found the entire idea of having children offer an oath of fealty that they rarely understand more than a tiny fraction of... a foolish waste of time.

Now you tell me the SC knows that rote repetition robs content of any significant meaning.

I can only wonder if it actually hurts patriotism and unity rather than promoting it? Certainly, as you say the debate won't bring us any closer together.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least get your facts right, this was not a 9th Circuit case, but a district court case out of Sacramento ruling on 9th Circuit precedent.

Personally, the quicker certain cases or issues PROGRESS people in this country into the 21st century, rather than allowing them to wallow in their 19th century value systems, the better. Simply laying down on issues like gay marriage, because of fear of other States acting against it, will get all of us absolutely nowhere, and personally I'd rather live in a State that is progressive while avoiding those that aren't, over living in an entire country that is moderate and afraid to tackle any "extreme" issue like allowing normal people to worship in any way they like or live with whoever they so choose. Shame on you for decrying progress in this country simply because the right wing uses it for their POLITICS. Politics is one thing, people living how they choose is another.


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