Jan 07 2010

Forcing Virginia to recognize “gay marriage” in Vermont?

Category: judges,justice,left,marriage,religion,society,theologyharmonicminer @ 9:22 am

Christian Mother Fails to Transfer Daughter to Former Lesbian Partner by Deadline

A Christian woman in Virginia who was ordered to turn over her daughter to her former lesbian partner in Vermont did not do so by the set deadline, a lawyer for the second woman reported.Lisa Miller had been ordered by a judge in Vermont to turn over her daughter, Isabella, to Janet Jenkins by 1 p.m. Friday, but has not shown up, Sarah Star, Jenkins’s lawyer, told the New York Times.

Officer Tawny Wright, a Fairfax County police spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the Jenkins family had called the police and that a detective is investigating.

For the time being, the case remains a civil matter, Wright added.

Last week, Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen, who awarded custody of Isabella to Jenkins on Nov. 20, noted that Miller appeared to have “disappeared with the minor child” and ceased communication with her attorneys.

For the past five years, Miller and Jenkins have been engaged in a custody battle over Isabella, who was conceived when the two women were living together in Virginia. Miller, a born-again Christian, had renounced her homosexuality just a few years after entering into a civil union with Jenkins in Vermont in 2000. Jenkins, on the other hand, is today still an active lesbian and has expressed disapproval in raising Isabella in a Christian home.

More at the link.

It’s about the welfare of the child, which I think is very clear in this case.

May 26 2009

California Prop 8 Upheld

Category: gay marriage,judges,legislationamuzikman @ 12:17 pm

Today the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, the amendment to the California Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  I am grateful the election results were upheld.  I am deeply concerned, however that the the vote itself (a second state-wide vote on the same issue – and with the same results), was not considered conclusive enough to bring the matter to a close.  Instead all of California held its collective breath to see whether or not the court system would overrule the clear will of the majority of California voters.  It is indicative of the degree to which people virtually expect judicial activism as a part of the political process.  It is also indicative of the fact that the will of the majority can be and has been thwarted by a small handful of individuals, sometimes just one person, appointed to the bench.  This, in my opinion, is not a good thing.

No matter your position on the subject of gay marriage today’s decision was an affirmation of the electoral process and for that I am grateful.

May 13 2009

Is the real problem “White Male Privilege,” lack of “Diversity,” and discrimination against “people of color”?

It has become common to berate institutions of all kinds that are deemed to be insufficiently “diverse,” as if there is automatically some institutional barrier preventing “people of color” from associating with them, and is if some kind of unfair “white male privilege” is the problem.   While there were significant institutional barriers in previous decades, those barriers are now largely gone, and civil-rights activists are busily fighting a war they’ve already won, almost in a manner reminiscent of Civil War re-enactments.   Nevertheless, the removal of those barriers isn’t enough for diversity activists, who now insist that institutions pursue essentially quota-based strategies to “diversify.”  The latest set of institutions engaged in self-flagellation for perceived failures of diversity are Christian colleges and universities, many of whom are scrambling just as fast as they can to “get diverse.” It is as if these institutions believe that if only they are more diverse, then the problems of minorities in American society will go away, or at least be ameliorated.  Or perhaps, if they are more diverse, they can at least feel less guilty about it.

The two biggest problems of injustice in black — and, increasingly, Hispanic — America are abortion and the epidemic of fatherless children.
Blacks abort their babies at a rate five times that of whites.  Nearly 70% of black children are born into fatherless households.  The first of these issues is directly traceable to the national legalization of abortion in 1973, an act of a left-leaning, activist court.   The second of these issues is directly traceable to the creation of LBJ’s Great Society programs in 1965, the act of a left-leaning congress and president.  These two problems cannot be primarily attributed to racism, for the historical reason that abortions were far less common before it was legalized, and the “illegitimacy rate” of blacks in 1960 was about 25%, not 70%.  What changed was government policy, in legalizing the murder of the unborn for essentially any reason at any time in the pregnancy, and in providing incentives to make babies out of wedlock by paying more for each one.  It is arguable that left-leaning governmental policies did more harm to black America than Jim Crow.  And it’s worth noting that blacks were climbing out of poverty rather steadily in the period from 1940-1960 (Thomas Sowell writes very clearly on this), while Jim Crow was still the norm.  Progress slowed dramatically with the beginning of the Great Society, proving that you can indeed offer someone too much help.

“Social justice” activists are fond of pointing to the disproportionately high representation of black men in prison as evidence of white injustice in law enforcement, the judicial system, the economy, etc.  But when the statistics are controlled for the presence of a father in the home, blacks raised with a married father in the home are no more likely than whites to be in jail.   So the “justice” problem is a society that discourages black families from forming, let alone failing.  The Left will say that “there are all kinds of families” and imply it is prejudice to promote the traditional understanding, but the sociologists and criminologists know better, if they have the courage to look at their own data.

The third biggest social justice problem for blacks is the state of the schools, but that cannot be fixed without addressing the issue of black families at the same time.   All too often, the family values are missing that will produce children with whom schools can work effectively.  Schools, no matter how well intentioned and well funded, can’t replace successful parents.  Churches can certainly help, but not when they are basically apologists for the status quo, and are used as platforms for leftist politics as much or more than for faithful transformation of inner-city culture along Godly lines.  None of this means the schools can’t be better, and various experimental schools have shown that typical inner-city black children can benefit greatly from improved schools, provided those schools don’t have to keep the most troublesome students enrolled, and are allowed to pursue educational techniques and policies of their own choosing.  But no one believes that schools alone can make up for deficits in parenting, even in experimental schools that shuck the usual pieties of the education lobby, even when the schools simply do what works, without trying to be social laboratories and places to park troubled children.

The real “white male privilege” with which we should concern ourselves most is that of white doctors killing black babies in the womb, or just barely out of it, for profit, in abortion clinics placed conveniently near inner city neighborhoods to encourage repeat business.  We would submit that the apparent nature of “black male privilege” does more damage to blacks than anything white males are doing, or saying.  Finally, there is the “white male privilege” of mostly white politicians who depend on the black vote, and buy it with government benefits and promises of more, the new form of sharecropper oppression, because by taking the deal, blacks have crippled themselves as a group in being able to improve their own circumstances by their own efforts, though there are obviously many individual exceptions.

These problems will not be solved by whites.  They will not be solved by a black president, leading a government made up mostly of whites, unless that black president is determined to undo the government incentives that encourage bad behavior.  That seems unlikely in this case, doesn’t it?  These problems will only be solved by black leaders “on the ground,” who must spend more time challenging their own communities, straightforwardly demanding better behavior, teaching skills and values for successful living, than they spend twisting the arms of “white” institutions to be more “diverse.”   They need to be teaching their people to reject government handouts that weaken their motivation to lift themselves up, tempting them to lower standards for personal and public behavior.  We need ten thousand people like Jesse Peterson, Clenard Childress and Johnny Hunter for every Jackson/Sharpton shakedown artist and/or community organizer whose idea of service is to take a young woman who shouldn’t be pregnant to city hall to apply for benefits (to “find her voice”), or, even worse, to provide rides to the local abortion mill, and in either case protecting from any responsibility the man or boy who made her pregnant, and in many cases the parent or guardian (usually only one) who failed to provide her with adequate supervision.

Inner-city black America is suffering not from being non-diverse, not primarily because some colleges and universities are not diverse, but because it is killing itself. We have just inaugurated a president who will encourage much, much more of the same, judging by his record, his public statements, his political commitments to his supporters, and his chosen advisers.

In the meantime, those Christian colleges and universities that are in a headlong rush to “diversify” are learning that it is very difficult to avoid all the Leftist influences that accompany diversity activism.  Some of these schools, which were once unabashedly pro-life, pro-traditional-family and pro-American, are now finding that with diversity comes the choice between promoting life or lionizing Obama-as-symbol, between being pro-traditional-family or endorsing all kinds of other arrangements as being “just as good,” and between acknowledging the strong Judeo-Christian ethic in the American founding and social ethos, or seeing America as “just another nation” with no uniquely important religious elements shaping its heritage, values and behavior.

It’s a choice these institutions are making, this decade.  The faculty they’re hiring now will be the ones who decide the directions of those institutions in the next decade, not today’s adminstrators and board members, who may make policy statements attempting to “hold the line,” etc.  Adminstrators and trustees come and go, but faculty have tenure.  Unfortunately, it seems no more possible in the current environment for prospective faculty to be asked, “Are you anti-abortion?” than it is to ask a prospective supreme court judge about future rulings.  That’s because, somehow, abortion has been relegated to being a “political question” instead of the frankly moral one that it is.  Somehow, it has become acceptable in some quarters for Christians to vote for pro-abortion politicians, and for that choice, and campaiging for such, to be seen as a valid “political choice.”  Yet I’m quite sure that most Christians would consider it a sin to vote for a pro-slavery candidate.

We are in a grim place, and those of us who see it that way need to be deep in prayer over it, and then we need to work within our institutions to improve the situation.

UPDATE: Walter E. Williams on Race Talk

Race talk often portrays black Americans as downtrodden and deserving of white people’s help and sympathy. That vision is an insult of major proportions. As a group, black Americans have made some of the greatest gains, over the highest hurdles, in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind’s history. This unprecedented progress can be seen through several measures. If one were to total black earnings, and consider black Americans a separate nation, he would find that in 2005 black Americans earned $644 billion, making them the world’s 16th richest nation — that is just behind Australia but ahead of Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. Black Americans are, and have been, chief executives of some of the world’s largest and richest cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, appointed Joint Chief of Staff in October 1989, who headed the world’s mightiest military and later became U.S. Secretary of State, and was succeeded by Condoleezza Rice, another black American. Black Americans are among the world’s most famous personalities and a few are among the richest. Most blacks are not poor but middle class.

On the eve of the Civil War, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed these gains possible in less than a mere century and a half, if ever. That progress speaks well not only of the sacrifices and intestinal fortitude of a people; it also speaks well of a nation in which these gains were possible. These gains would not have been possible anywhere else.

Apr 17 2009

When US judges follow precedents from foreign courts

Category: judgesharmonicminer @ 9:13 am

Greek to Me

Foreign law is entirely irrelevant to the exploration and determination of the Constitution’s meaning, unless. . . well unless you think the Constitution has no real meaning and is a trampoline from which the judges may launch themselves into all manner of argument, investigation, and philosophical debate. If you think it is impossible or simply foolhardly to determine what the Constitution means (and think your job is to look for intriguing ideas, interesting notions, and cultural trends to impose on the populace) then foreign law — or novels for that matter — are perfectly relevant.

But which law? Saudi Arabian on women’s rights? I think Justice Ginsburg would recoil in horror. Irish or Italian law on separation of church and state? Preposterous. It becomes obvious that foreign law soon devolves into a sort of grocery shelf from which individual justices can pluck whatever looks “good” and disregard the rest.

I think I have a novel I’d like Justice Ginsburg to use in her next foray into non-USA sources for jurisprudential input.

Starship Troopers

Or maybe she could just use the Torah, definitely a source of input from a foreign Court.


Jan 07 2009

What Price Victory?

Category: freedom,gay marriage,judges,libertyamuzikman @ 11:34 am

In California, the passage of Proposition 8, defining marriage as between a man and a woman, is being challenged and is now before the California Supreme Court.  This is the very same court that struck down the first protection of traditional marriage, Proposition 22, passed in 2000.  In that case four members of the court overruled a 61.4% voting majority and declared the proposition unconstitutional.  In my opinion there is very little reason to think it won’t happen again.  What is of great concern to me is the outcry, the lobbying and the expectation of so many in this state seeking to obtain through the court system what they couldn’t get through the ballot box.  Both the California Governor and Lieutenant Governor have joined the chorus of those expressing hope that Prop 8 will be overturned by the court.  It has become common and sadly acceptable for the losers in a election to plan and execute a reversal of results by means of the court system and sympathetic judges.

I know this is a very hot-button issue.  But regardless of your opinion about gay marriage step back and think about this for a moment.  Is there any more precious right we have as citizens of this country than to vote?  Is liberty and freedom better expressed anywhere than in the voting booth?  Yet we seem to be perfectly fine with giving the most undemocratic, the most unaccountable and the most unrepresentative branch of government broad sweeping powers to make and change the Constitution as they see fit, taking the right away from us, the voters, We the People.

The people of California have spoken clearly twice in the last decade.  The voting majority want marriage to be defined as one man and one woman. Every vote by definition has a winner and a loser.  But if the loser can manipulate a system whereby they become the winner then does it not make the voting process a sham?

If Prop 8 is overturned the political left, the gay lobby, their sympathizers and supporters will be dancing in the streets. But if you look very closely you’ll see their dancing feet are trampling one of our most cherished and basic rights. And if that does happen then I will have one question…

Why bother to vote?

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Oct 07 2008

Welcome, neighbor!

Category: election 2008,judges,Obama,politics,terrorismharmonicminer @ 6:28 pm

We’re letting people who hate us and who have been trained to kill us loose in our nation’s capitol. (much more at the link)

Immediately after it was released this summer, Barack Obama applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5/4 decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which for the first time extended rights under the U.S. Constitution to foreigners captured and held abroad based on their activities abroad. To reach that result, the Supreme Court had to declare unconstitutional a statute passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law by the president which gave these individuals substantive and procedural rights comparable or superior to those we give to our own sons and daughters in uniform. It also had to ignore and/or mischaracterize decades of prior federal precedents holding that such foreigners had no right to claim the U.S. Constitution’s protections through a writ of habeas corpus — essentially extending the protections of the U.S. Constitution to the entire world.

Now as the inevitable consequence of that ruling, seventeen hard-core Islamic jihadists who’d come from their homes in China to train at terrorist camps in Afghanistan — captured there by our armed forces, and held since at Guantanamo Bay — are on the brink of being released this week, not for return to China, but into the general population of our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.:

Did you get that? We’re letting trained Chinese Islamic extremist trainee killers loose in Washington DC. This is the outcome that is praised by the Left, including Obama and acolytes. They wanted this.


I propose that the government place these, uh, gentlemen in half-way houses in the same neighborhood as the Left leaning Supreme Court judges who made this idiotic decision. Or the neighborhood where the Democrat Senators live who invented Borking, or the Democrat Senators who filibustered the appointment of constructionist judges. Or, my personal favorite, the neighborhood where the ACLU lawyers live, who pushed for this ruling.

Actually, I suppose we can’t blame the Leftists on the Court for voting like “useful idiots“. But Justice Kennedy really ought to know better. So let’s just let the Chinese Islamic terrorist trainees loose in his neighborhood. Maybe that would be a nice place for the halfway house.

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Aug 19 2008

Clarence, Barack, Clarence, Barack….. Clarence!

Category: election 2008,judges,Obama,politics,White Househarmonicminer @ 9:32 am

At the Saddleback Civil Forum, Barack Obama let it be known that Clarence Thomas was his first choice as the Supreme Court Justice he would NOT have appointed, and cited what he considered to be Thomas’ thin record of achievement before being appointed to SCOTUS by Bush the Elder.

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, if they want to live in the White House, anyway. The point: for Barack to refer to Thomas’ preparation as inadequate is risible, coming from him.

In the spirit of fair comparison, here is info on the careers of each man: Barack Obama and Clarence Thomas.

Thomas pre-SCOTUS career included being Assistant Attorney General of Missouri, private practice attorney, legislative assistant to a US Senator, Assistant Secretary of Education for the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education, and Chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, not to mention a year already on the DC Court of Appeals, the nation’s second highest court.

Obama’s pre-Presidential campaign career included working for a couple of NGOs, being a community organizer, some work with a couple of private law firms, lecturer in a law school, state senator in the Illinois legislature, and finally about a year as US Senator before announcing his presidential bid.

At the time of appointment to the Supreme Court, Thomas was about 42. Obama is running for President at age 47.

It is not clear to me that Obama’s resume is a whit more impressive than Thomas’, though Thomas was 5 years younger than Obama the Presidential candidate, at the time of Thomas’ appointment to SCOTUS. And, in his last major pre-SCOTUS role, Thomas served for 8 years as Chairman of the EEOC, with major administrative responsibilities. Obama had been US Senator for exactly one year before deciding he was of Presidential timber.

In fact, on balance, the kind of experience Thomas had was more in keeping with the kinds of roles a President must fill than the kinds of experience Obama has had, up to now.

For that reason, for those who just can’t stand the idea of voting for McCain, let me suggest you write in Clarence Thomas. He’d be a FAR better choice than Obama. And hey… if you don’t like Thomas, that’s one way to get him off the court!

In the meantime, Obama might be well served by doing a little resume comparison, and thinking more carefully before dissing a more capable man.

Doubt this? Read Thomas’ recent book, and then read Obama’s, each autobiographical. That’ll tell you all you need to know….

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Aug 16 2008

Signals, hopefully not smoke, on judges and other matters

Category: abortion,election 2008,judgesharmonicminer @ 9:07 am

This is an election in which the “values voters” of yore are mostly being ignored.

In recent presidential elections hot-button social issues like abortion and marriage played a prominent role. In 2000 the candidates hotly debated the impact of the next president’s Supreme Court picks on abortion rights as pro-choice activists attempted to galvanize voters with the prospect that George W. Bush’s election would result in limits on or even outlawing of abortion. In 2004 an Ohio state referendum on gay marriage helped turn out religious conservatives who may have put George W. Bush over the top in the decisive state. After the 2004 election, pundits and activists debated the role of “values” voters and Democrats committed to reaching out to these voters in the future.

But this year, the most remarkable thing about the two most prominent social issues –abortion and gay marriage– is how little we have heard about them.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is John McCain.  McCain, for good or ill, has positioned himself as more “moderate” than “conservative”. Compared to Obama, he is quite conservative, of course, but he is significantly to the left of, say, Ronald Reagan.  He signals that “moderation” in several ways.  He makes noises about maybe selecting a pro-choice running mate.  He takes the occasional, obligatory swipe at big oil.  He talks about “corruption in both parties”.  And he avoids talking much about hot button issues for conservatives, like abortion and gay marriage, because he thinks anything he might say will either offend conservatives, or “moderates”.  Since he believes he can’t please both, he says little.

  Continue reading “Signals, hopefully not smoke, on judges and other matters”

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Jun 27 2008

By A Whisker

Category: constitution,guns,judgesharmonicminer @ 9:02 am

How many people understand that we were one vote from losing the Bill of Rights in the Constitution? That if judges could simply decide the words don’t mean what they say, and what they plainly meant at the time they were written, then the words mean nothing whatsoever, and the law is simply what some black-robed oligarchs decide it means?

Randy Barnett, writing in the Wall Street Journal: News Flash: The Constitution Means What It Says

Justice Scalia’s opinion is the finest example of what is now called “original public meaning” jurisprudence ever adopted by the Supreme Court. This approach stands in sharp contrast to Justice John Paul Stevens’s dissenting opinion that largely focused on “original intent” – the method that many historians employ to explain away the text of the Second Amendment by placing its words in what they call a “larger context.” Although original-intent jurisprudence was discredited years ago among constitutional law professors, that has not stopped nonoriginalists from using “original intent” – or the original principles “underlying” the text – to negate its original public meaning.

Of course, the originalism of both Justices Scalia’s and Stevens’s opinions are in stark contrast with Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion, in which he advocates balancing an enumerated constitutional right against what some consider a pressing need to prohibit its exercise. Guess which wins out in the balancing? As Justice Scalia notes, this is not how we normally protect individual rights, and was certainly not how Justice Breyer protected the individual right of habeas corpus in the military tribunals case decided just two weeks ago.

So what larger lessons does Heller teach? First, the differing methods of interpretation employed by the majority and the dissent demonstrate why appointments to the Supreme Court are so important. In the future, we should be vetting Supreme Court nominees to see if they understand how Justice Scalia reasoned in Heller and if they are committed to doing the same.

We should also seek to get a majority of the Supreme Court to reconsider its previous decisions or “precedents” that are inconsistent with the original public meaning of the text. This shows why elections matter – especially presidential elections – and why we should vet our politicians to see if they appreciate how the Constitution ought to be interpreted.

This all swung on a single vote. Imagine if the vote had been on “free speech” or “freedom of assembly” or “freedom of religion”? A 5-4 ruling would have been terrifying in its implications for our nation. It should be unanimous that the Constitution’s plain wording means what it says.

The Left wants desperately to pack the Court for the next generation during an Obama presidency. To the Left, specific issues they care about are more important than our nation’s fundamental character as a constitutional republic.

So I am happy at the outcome. And I am terrified of what could have been, and may well still be.

hat tip: addisonrd

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