Tag Archives: Supreme Court

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.

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Straight Pride – What’s a Catholic to Think?

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In the aftermath of the gay marriage decision by the Supreme Court of the United States, a lot of arguments and debates ensued.   While the dust has generally settled on this from the immediately emotional responses of each side, there will continue to be debate about the status of marriage in the United States forever.   Whether you are for or against this decision, it’s a simple fact that this was not legislated on a grand scale at either the federal or state level, nor was the Constitution Amended, which would have been a reflection of widespread approval for such a change.   The Supreme Court, like many state courts where it was already legal, deemed that a right existed on a Constitutional basis that is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution, and it ruled this way across ideological lines by the narrowest possible margin.

While many want to move on and claim victory and that the debate is over, others do not.    And there is no reason to.   One can begrudgingly accept that the court ruled that way and understand that things have changed in a practical sense in how this now applies to the various elements of society where marital status matters, while at the same time utterly disagreeing with the decision itself.

On a moral basis, it’s simply silly and stupid to suggest that a 5-4 decision of an institution of law somehow changes the intrinsic morality of a certain issue.   Acceptance of something does not change the intrinsic nature of something.   I suppose if you don’t believe in God or any moral authority then you might live by a meandering and flexible set of rules, but if you believe in any higher authority that is a bit more important from a judgment standpoint than our human court, then there is no sense to be made of an argument that morality changes.   There just isn’t.

As usual, in trying to set the context of the actual point of this post, I’m rambling.   It’s what I do.

Annnnyyyyyywwwwaaaaayyyyyyy…..

One of the predictable and somewhat logical responses to the decision was a sudden surge of straight pride.    Facebook posts emerged declaring that so-and-so is proud to be straight.    Predictable responses followed by those who argued that this is a statement of bigotry.   Really, overall, any such statement or post just devolves into all the same unwinnable arguments.   People get angry and upset and nobody is convinced of anything.

But I want to dive deeper into this and view it from a Catholic perspective or mindset.   The two sides of the argument would seem to be that this is something we should celebrate, we need to make a point, we need to stand up for traditional marriage, and there is nothing wrong with promoting “straight pride.”    The other side of the argument is that this is unnecessarily combative, that it is not charitable, that Jesus wouldn’t do it, and we shouldn’t make our point in this way.

From my perspective, I actually think both sides are right.   I don’t think this is black and white, and I think it comes down to what your motive is, who your audience is, how it’s presented, and all that stuff.

Suppose a person set up a “Straight Pride” sign in their yard.   For effect, it’s a white sign with a picture of a blue male and a pink female.   Maybe include the male/female symbols on wedding rings as a backdrop.

What is the motive with this?   What is a person thinking in their heart when they do it?    If the honest answer is “I want it to generate conversation and dialogue so I can present my side of the argument” then that is good.   If the honest answer is that you just feel so strongly about this issue that you want to make your voice known, and for whatever reason you just simply feel that this is the best way to do that, then that is good.   But the motive lies in your heart.   It’s not what you say the motive is.   If your real desire is to stick it to the other side, or to purposely be combative, or to tick off the neighbor down the road who is flying a rainbow flag, then your action is not good.

The simple fact is that you have to really be the harshest judge of your motives that you can be, and you really should also understand the response you might get.   Are you prepared for potential vandalism or angry feedback?   And if that happens, will you get angry in return, or will you forgive them and pray for them, and try to find a civil way to discuss what it is that is making them upset? If you are not prepared to meet resistance in a Christ-like manner, then it probably is not worth doing.   And that can be really tough.   But if you meet negativity with more negativity, you’re doing more harm than good with the stand you are taking.

I saw a debate on this issue on Facebook, and it was not lost on me that opponents immediately go to comparisons of “White Pride.”    There are a number of issues I have with this, and I find it the simplistic and convenient argument of an unthinking person who wants to simply shut down debate by painting anyone who thinks differently about things as a horrible person.  But these are the kinds of responses you need to be prepared for and have an answer to if you plan to engage in this type of symbolic approach to your opposition to gay marriage.

This is likely the main objection, so here are my thoughts on it:

  • A faulty premise stated forcefully and accusingly does not still make the premise true.   As vehemently as someone suggests you are a bigot, rather than try to argue nuances as to why you are not, you first of all need to completely disagree and dispute that premise and simply tell them that regardless of what they think, they are wrong, and you could go back and forth all day saying “Am not” “Are too” but you aren’t going to do that
  • Once you’ve established the complete disagreement with the premise, it then makes sense to have some reasons as to why this is different.   There are many:
    • The Supreme Court just declared different kinds of marriages equal.   If one group can be proud that they have a particular sexual proclivity, then it makes perfect sense for someone to be proud of theirs.   We’re all equal, after all.
    • I could argue about all the murkiness about the white pride/black pride issues as well, but let’s boil things down to a couple main points.   Whether you agree or disagree that “white pride” is racist, the simple fact is that blacks were once enslaved, were considered property, didn’t have the right to vote for a long part of the history of our country, were segregated, and so on.    Despite all these injustices, this was all rectified in the appropriate way (though not soon enough).    Laws were passed, and the Constitution was amended.   The same can be said of women’s rights.   Our country moved slow, but allowed the Constitutional process to play out.
    • Building on the previous point, while I am certain that gays can point to injustices (both real and perceived) they can’t hold a candle to the injustices suffered from the black community.   I’ll be perfectly honest, I am shocked that as many people in the black community have embraced the comparison as they have.   But the bigger point is that the Supreme Court seems to have decided that the processes of the past need no longer apply to the processes of today.   Instead of allowing laws and the Constitutional process to provide rights that society want to enumerate and grant, rights are invented and it’s not even hidden anymore that the Constitution does not really support the decision.   Instead, we are told that the Constitution really means what we want it to mean in the context of today.   By this logic, no Amendments need to be passed, ever, to positively define rights.   The Amendment process has moved from clarifying and expanding the rights of people to a process of restricting rights the Supreme Court granted that they have no business granting.   And they know that to do so is nearly impossible, or at the very least expensive and difficult.   So they can get away with it.    And this has offended people who disagree on this topic.   We feel that our own view has been trampled on, and the language of the Court automatically casts us in a negative light.
    • This all creates a very real difference.   When someone says “yeah, that’s the same argument people made against the civil rights act, or women’s right to vote” then you can actually even agree to a point, and then point out that even if they are right they are helping make your point.   One reason we are so upset is because the corrective actions taken against those injustices was properly done, whereas this wasn’t.   And because it wasn’t, you can’t just expect the masses to suddenly be happy about it and agree with it.
    • The granting of rights to blacks did not change anything about the nature of being white and human.   The redefinition of marriage is an entirely different animal, and any attempt to diminish that aspect of this and just make it about intolerance to gays is, again, an entirely false premise that needs to be combated at every turn.   Because of that, there is a very real fundamental difference between the two.

Having said all that, I will counter with a reason of my own as to why I actually don’t like the “Straight Pride” angle.    It’s because I have never, to be honest, understood at all why someone creates an entire identity around being gay.   Why is someone gay and proud?   Why is it that someone who has heretofore acted and talked in a way that doesn’t advertise to the world their sexual preference, suddenly morph into someone who changes his personality, speech, physical actions, etc. after “coming out?”    What is so wrong with just being gay without the world knowing it unless you mention your partner or whatever?    I have never understood it, and in fact, I think it is harmful and hurtful for anyone to have the primary identifying factor about them be their sexual preference.   We all have so much inherent dignity as a creature made in God’s image and likeness that any “pride” we have about just being us is a misnomer.   We owe everything to Him, and have nothing much to be particularly proud about, other than our own God Who loves us unconditionally.  Why the heck am I proud to be straight?   Why should anyone be proud to be gay?    I’m straight.   I feel blessed to be straight.   I think it’s a gift from God.   So, the whole “<Fill in blank> Pride” thing isn’t really my thing.

But if it is, I won’t judge.   Just be honest with yourself and be prepared at all times to respond in charitable and informed ways, without accepting premises that are imputed upon you.

Why I support the Confirmation of Justice Sotomayor

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It is a bit difficult for me to say that I actually “support” Sotomayor. There is every indication that she subscribes to the approach that the Constitution is a “living and breathing” document, which can be interpreted to fit the times, rather than for what it is. The thought process is that the Supreme Court can basically amend the Constitution by applying current day thought to it, even though certain “rights” are not enumerated in the Constitution. The Amendment process being overly rigorous, we have “chosen” to amend it in a different way.

Poppycock.

I will agree with one thing. The amendment process is too rigorous. But it is only too rigorous because we have perverted the role of the Supreme Court. These justices – 9 people – have free reign to amend the Constitution on a virtually unchecked basis. I have no problem with the amendment process being rigorous in order to change the Constitution on its face. I do, however, have a problem with the disparity in which the Supreme Court can essentially amend the Constitution and the ability for the U.S. populace to correct their mistakes when they overstep their bounds. The founding fathers have to be rolling over in their graves at the thought of 9 unelected individuals having complete authority in changing the Constitution or its meaning with almost no way to balance that. This cannot be what they had in mind. I’m quite certain the “living and breathing” concept would have been met with ridicule and disbelief in their time.

So, given my discomfort with that notion, why in the world would I “support” the confirmation of Justice Sotomayor?

Answer: I’d rather have my foot amputated than my entire leg.

Let’s face reality: I will not like anyone Obama appoints. Should the nomination of Sotomayor sink, he will appoint someone with the same judicial philosophy again. This simply will not change.

So, the question becomes one of “the devil you know” versus the one you don’t. And as flawed as Sotomayor may be in some key areas (her comments on Latina superiority, ties with certain groups, stances on illegal immigration, certain business rulings) there is at least a faint hope that she is not completely whacked-out left-wing on social issues. Her record is slim on abortion, gay marriage, and other issues. In fact, there are some indications that she may be at least moderate on the abortion issue, based on some her rulings on that issue. She is a Catholic, which is only really appealing to me if she considers herself an actual Catholic. I don’t play identity politics with Catholicism. A devout Catholic certainly would give me hope that she has a similar worldview as mine, and is a plus. But that doesn’t necessarily seem to be the case here. That said, there may be some level of Catholic understanding on some of these formative issues that can’t hurt matters. One can only hope and pray that this is the case.

So, there are some glimmers of hope. One telling thing is that the White House is going out of its way to assure nervous pro-choicers. This could be a good sign, particularly if it’s true that she was never directly asked about abortion. Perhaps the President has certain assumptions abouot her that aren’t accurate? Again, we can only hope and pray.

The bigger driver in my lukewarm support, though, is simply that I strongly suspect that – as liberal as Sotomayor may be on certain issues – the next appointee would be an abomination. That’s my fear, and I don’t think it’s an unfounded one. That may be a weak reason to hope for her confirmation, but it’s all I’ve got.

So, I guess my summary conclusion is that I oppose Sotomayor’s appointment on many grounds. However, reality being what it is, I’m quite certain I’d oppose her replacement even more. I’ll take the devil I know. Perhaps she will surprise us all.