Showing posts with label Conservatism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conservatism. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Justice Scalia Justifies Discrimination Against Women and Minorities Using the Fourteenth Amendment

     When it comes to the rights of women (and, by default, LGBT persons and racial or religious minorities), Roman Catholic Supreme Court Justice Scalia has voiced his biblical understanding of The Constitution of the United States.

In 1868, when the 39th Congress was debating and ultimately proposing the 14th Amendment, I don't think anybody would have thought that equal protection applied to sex discrimination, or certainly not to sexual orientation. So does that mean that we've gone off in error by applying the 14th Amendment to both?
Yes, yes. Sorry, to tell you that. ... But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that's fine. You do not need the Constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't. Nobody ever thought that that's what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don't need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don't like the death penalty anymore, that's fine. You want a right to abortion? There's nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn't mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.
What do you do when the original meaning of a constitutional provision is either in doubt or is unknown?
I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. There are some questions you have no easy answer to, and you have to take your best shot. ... We don't have the answer to everything, but by God [sic] we have an answer to a lot of stuff...
     "By God [sic]" indeed.

      Here is one response as reported in The Huffington Post:
     For the record, the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause states: "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."
     Marcia Greenberger, founder and co-president of the National Women's Law Center, called the justice's comments "shocking" and said he was essentially saying that if the government sanctions discrimination against women, the judiciary offers no recourse.  In these comments, Justice Scalia says if Congress wants to protect laws that prohibit sex discrimination, that's up to them," she said. "But what if they want to pass laws that discriminate? Then he says that there's nothing the court will do to protect women from government-sanctioned discrimination against them. And that's a pretty shocking position to take in 2011. It's especially shocking in light of the decades of precedents and the numbers of justices who have agreed that there is protection in the 14th Amendment against sex discrimination, and struck down many, many laws in many, many areas on the basis of that protection."
     Greenberger added that under Scalia's doctrine, women could be legally barred from juries, paid less by the government, receive fewer benefits in the armed forces, and be excluded from state-run schools -- all things that have happened in the past, before their rights to equal protection were enforced.
     "In 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that they [women] were protected, in an opinion by the conservative then Chief Justice Warren Burger," Adam Cohen wrote in Time in September. "It is no small thing to talk about writing women out of equal protection -- or Jews, or Latinos or other groups who would lose their protection by the same logic. It is nice to think that legislatures would protect these minorities from oppression by the majority, but we have a very different country when the Constitution guarantees that it is so."
     From a well-articulated editorial in The New York Times:
     Justice Scalia is now getting attention for his outlandish view, expressed in an interview in the magazine California Lawyer, that the promise of equal protection in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment does not extend to protecting women against sex discrimination. Legislatures may outlaw sex discrimination, Justice Scalia suggested, but if they decided to enact laws sanctioning such unfair treatment, it would not be unconstitutional.
     This is not the first time Justice Scalia has espoused this notion, and it generally tracks his jurisprudence in the area. Still, for a sitting member of the nation’s highest court to be pressing such an antiquated view of women’s rights is jarring, to say the least.
     No less dismaying is his notion that women, gays and other emerging minorities should be left at the mercy of the prevailing political majority when it comes to ensuring fair treatment. It is an “originalist” approach wholly antithetical to the framers’ understanding that vital questions of people’s rights should not be left solely to the political process. It also disrespects the wording of the Equal Protection Clause, which is intentionally broad, and its purpose of ensuring a fairer society.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Justice Clarence Thomas Sexually Harassed More than Anita Hill

     Huge breaking hypocrisy news out of Washington DC.  Lilian McEwen, former federal prosecutor and old girlfriend/mistress of divorced and remarried Conservative Catholic Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has broken her silence about Thomas' history of sexual harassment and obsession with porn.  Anita Hill wasn't his only victim.  Simply put: Thomas perjured himself during his confirmation hearings so that he could get on the bench.  He's a liar and a hypocrite.  How's that for family values?

     [McEwen] said Hill's long-ago description of Thomas's behavior resonated with her.  "He was obsessed with porn," she said of Thomas, who is now 63. "He would talk about what he had seen in magazines and films, if there was something worth noting."  McEwen added that she had no problem with Thomas's interests, although she found pornography to be "boring."
     According to McEwen, Thomas would also tell her about women he encountered at work. He was partial to women with large breasts, she said. In an instance at work, Thomas was so impressed that he asked one woman her bra size, McEwen recalled him telling her.
     Presented with some of McEwen's assertions, Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Thomas was unavailable for comment.
     However bizarre they may seem, McEwen's recollections resemble accounts shared by other women that swirled around the Thomas confirmation.  Angela Wright, who in 1984 worked as public affairs director at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -- which polices sexual harassment claims -- during Thomas's long tenure as chairman, shared similar accounts with Senate investigators. Once, when walking into an EEOC seminar with Thomas, he asked her, "What size are your breasts?" according to the transcript of her Senate interview. Her story was corroborated by a former EEOC speechwriter, who told investigators that Wright had become increasingly uneasy around Thomas because of his comments about her appearance...
     Through the years, McEwen said, she has remained reasonably friendly with Thomas. On two or three occasions, she said, she brought friends to his Supreme Court chambers where they sat for long conversations.  But now, she says, "I know Clarence would not be happy with me."
     "I have no hostility toward him," McEwen said. "It is just that he has manufactured a different reality over time. That's the problem that he has."
     For more, see Consortium News.

     Also, here's the coverage Keith Olbermann did on Thursday about Justice Thomas' wife Virginia calling and leaving a voice mail at Anita Hill's office last weakened asking Hill to apologize to Thomas for what she did to him.  She also said she's praying for Hill.  How kind of her.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Last Known Pink Triangle Speaks about Being Placed in a Concentration Camp in Nazi Germany

     One myth thrown out by some conservative Christian Americans is that Hitler and the Nazis were gay.  Untrue.  Homosexuals were persecuted by Hitler, marked with pink triangles, and sent to concentration camps.  This is a historical fact.

     In the video below, Rudolph Brazda, who is possibly the last surviving Pink Triangle, speaks of his experience.

     97 year-old Rudolf Brazda is probably the last surviving man to have been deported by the Nazis for being a homosexual. In a video interview for Yagg he remembers his years as a prisoner at the Buchenwald concentration camp. He had previously given his precise and moving testimony to Jean-Luc Schwab, of the French organization Les “Oublié(e)s” de la Mémoire (Forgotten from Memory), who turned it into a fascinating book: Itinéraire d’un Triangle rose (Itinerary of a Pink triangle).
     The son of Tcheckoslovaquian immigrants in Germany, Rudolf Brazda was 20 when Hitler rose to power. He had lived his homosexuality freely and openly until the law penalizing homosexuality, the notorious “Paragraph 175″, was toughened by the Nazi regime. On August 8, 1942, after having gone to prison twice, he was sent to the concentration camp of Buchenwald, where he was given the number 7952, and a pink triangle.
     Here is the video of Brazda telling his story:

Thank you to Towleroad for introducing me to Yagg.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rep. Steve Pearce's Most Slippery of Slopes

     Here is an example of "the slippery slope argument" used by conservative Christians to argue against LGBT civil rights: "If gays can get married, polygamy will be next."

     In this case, Congressman Steve Pearce (White, Straight, Baptist, Republican, New Mexico) argued that after gay couples marry and polygamy reigns that one gay will marry every uninsured person in California with AIDS so that they can all get health insurance benefits.  That's about as slippery as the slope gets.  (There's a simple solution to calm his fear: nationalized healthcare or at least a public option.)

     Pearce (who Sarah Palin just endorsed) went on in the video to claim that children adopted by same-sex couples are sewing their homo-parents in droves, because these children want to be raised by one man and one woman and not have a "social experiment" run on their lives.  Pearce claimed that this "push-back" happened "nationwide."  You may wonder why I'm mixing my tenses, that's because this video is from Pearce's 2008 campaign.  His prophesies failed.

     Where is the nationwide push-back of straight children sewing their homo-parents?  Why did the Mormons, historical practitioners of polygamy, fund California Proposition 8?  If same-sex marriage really was going to lead to legalized polygamy, this seems illogical.  Of course it is: This is a multiple-term congressman who's making laws that govern our lives.

     Here's the video:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Wisconsin Conservatives Go After Domestic Partnership, But Did't They Claim Separate-but-Not-Equal Is Good Enough for Gays?

     One "argument" used by the Right against same-sex couple's civil marriage rights is "Domestic partnership provides all the same legal rights.  Why don't you gays all just get domestic partnerships?"


     Let's take a look at Wisconsin.  It's a middle of the road state.  Not the Neo-Confederate South, nor the Progressive Canadeuropean New England.

     In Wisconsin, domestic partnership falls very short of providing equal protection under the law for same-sex couples.  Fair Wisconsin reports on the disparity of rights and its economic impact on same-sex couples:
     Same-sex couples have fewer economic resources to provide for their families than do their married counterparts: they have lower household incomes and lower rates of home ownership. This is in part because committed same-sex couples do not have access to the full rights, responsibilities and obligations of full marriage equality, which includes over 200 protections under state law and 1,138 protections under federal law.
     Domestic partnerships allow these committed and loving couples a limited level of protection by allowing domestic partners to take family leave from work to care for one another, the ability to make end of life decisions if their partner is unable, and visit their partner in the hospital if they are sick.

    Next issue: the Right's claim that we homos should get domestic-partnered to one another instead of married is also a lie.  In Wisconsin, the Right got their constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed using this argument, but that wasn't enough.  Now they are going after Wisconsin's domestic partnership law claiming that it needs to go because it's "too much like marriage."

     A gay rights group and five gay couples are hoping to defend Wisconsin's domestic partner registry against a legal challenge.  Fair Wisconsin and the couples filed a motion Friday asking to intervene in the lawsuit brought by Wisconsin Family Action in August.
     The lawsuit seeks to strike down the registry created by lawmakers last year that gives same-sex couples some legal rights such as the ability to visit each other in the hospital and take medical leave to care for an ill partner.
     The lawsuit brought by the social conservative group argues the domestic partnerships are too much like marriage and conflict with Wisconsin's ban on gay marriage.
     The Right's actions remind me of a patriotic parody we used to sing in grade school.  We had no idea of the political truth of what we were singing:  
     This land is my land.  It isn't your land.  I got a shotgun.  And you don't got one.  If you don't get off.  I'll shoot your head off.  This land was made for only me.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Incredible Statistics: DADT & the DREAM Act Are Supported by the Vast Majority of Americans

     There are many reasons that the Republicans claim they blocked the Defense Authorization Bill in the Senate today.  

     The two amendments that they objected to in the bill were the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, which wasn't to go into effect until the military deemed it the right time, and the passage of the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to college graduates who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were children.

     Here is some incredible data regarding the DREAM Act and DADT via TruthOut:
     It is important to note that senators representing a relatively small minority of the American population sustained a filibuster of a bill despite the fact that it contained very popular provisions. According to polling, 70 percent of Americans support the DREAM Act and 75 percent of Americans support fully repealing DADT.
     The 42 senators who filibustered the bill, on the other hand, represent only 36 percent of the American population. Thanks to senate procedure, a small minority can easily obstruct the will of the vast majority of the public.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Anti-Gay Iowans Seek to Remove Iowa Supreme Court Justices in November Election

     Here's the latest in my home state, Iowa, where a conservative, anti-gay rights group called Iowa for Freedom is leading a political campaign to remove three of the Iowa Supreme Court judges who were part of the unanimous decision declaring Iowa's withholding of equal civil marriage rights to same sex couples.  

     Conservative activists are trying to oust three judges on the state Supreme Court whose unanimous ruling last year legalized same-sex unions. Their decision stunned opponents nationwide and delighted advocates who were eager for a victory in the heartland.  Now, conservatives are staging an unusual campaign that aims to defeat the judges in November.
     "We need to vote them off the bench to send a message across Iowa that we, the people, still have the power," said Bob Vander Plaats, a Republican politician who is spearheading the campaign. "Not only will it send a message here in Iowa, but it will send a message in California, in Arizona and across the country that the courts have really taken on too much power."
     The Iowa campaign is a new front in the fight over same-sex marriage...The effort in Iowa worries not only gay rights advocates but some legal experts who say it is wrong to punish judges for an unpopular decision. For critics of judicial elections, Iowa is offering a compelling example of the peril of subjecting judges to voters' whims...
     The controversy has drawn the attention of the Iowa Bar Association and legal experts around the country, including former U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who is slated to address the matter at an event here next month. O'Connor for years has spoken out against the judicial elections, arguing that they create "politicians in robes."
     Three of the court's seven judges are on the ballot this year: Chief Justice Marsha Ternus, Justice Michael Streit and Justice David Baker. They have not spoken out on behalf of themselves.
     Former Supreme Court justice Mark McCormick has been an ardent defender.  "I've used the word 'vengeance' before in describing what this campaign is about," said McCormick, now a lawyer in private practice. "I think it is a challenge to judicial independence. There's an effort being made to succeed in turning out of office these three good judges for an inappropriate reason."
     It's called separation of powers and the system of check and balances.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hans Küng Pleas to Catholic Bishops: Pope Benedict "Directly Responsible for Engineering Global Cover-Up of Child Rape Perpetrated by Priests;" Time for Vatican III

     Küng is one of the few remaining Catholic theologians, who helped author the reforms of Vatican II that still active in the Catholic Church, although he's been forbidden to teach theology in Catholic universities since 1979 when he published a theological book questioning papal infallibility.  After what's been revealed this past month, how can anyone believe that Pope Benedict can speak infallibly on matters of faith and morals, when his own "morality" includes sacrificing children to be raped by priest-pedophiles?

          Here are some highlights and bullet points of Küng's letter.  In order to understand his points completely, I suggest reading it in full.

     The letter's introduction:
     Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and I were the youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Now we are the oldest and the only ones still fully active. I have always understood my theological work as a service to the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.
     I deeply appreciated that the pope invited me, his outspoken critic, to meet for a friendly, four-hour-long conversation shortly after he took office. This awakened in me the hope that my former colleague at Tubingen University might find his way to promote an ongoing renewal of the church and an ecumenical rapprochement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
     Unfortunately, my hopes and those of so many engaged Catholic men and women have not been fulfilled. And in my subsequent correspondence with the pope, I have pointed this out to him many times. Without a doubt, he conscientiously performs his everyday duties as pope, and he has given us three helpful encyclicals on faith, hope and charity. But when it comes to facing the major challenges of our times, his pontificate has increasingly passed up more opportunities than it has taken:
     Küng's list of Benedict's missed opportunities (condensed):
     This last point, respected bishops, is the most serious of all. Time and again, this pope has added qualifications to the conciliar texts and interpreted them against the spirit of the council fathers. Time and again, he has taken an express stand against the Ecumenical Council, which according to canon law represents the highest authority in the Catholic Church: 
     (Vatican II was an ecumenical council, the place that "big-T Tradition," as in Catholics believe the will of god is revealed in the world via "scripture and Tradition," comes from, and over which, no mere pope can assert authority.  It would be like a pope suddenly declaring that Jesus was not fully divine.)

     Küng then lists Benedict's heretical (my word, not Küng's) actions against the spirit of the teachings of Vatican II, which include bringing back the excommunicated schismatic the traditionalist Pius X Society who reject central points of Vatican II; going back to the Tridentine Latin liturgy; refusing to put into effect the rapprochement with the Anglican Church and instead luring married Anglican clergy into the Roman Catholic Church by freeing them from the very rule of celibacy that has forced tens of thousands of Roman Catholic priests out of office (how's that for hypocrisy?); and actively reinforcing the anti-Vatican II forces by appointing reactionary officials and bishops in the Vatican and around the world.

     Then Küng reproaches Benedict more completely than anyone from within the church has yet to do (hopefully providing language and witness for bishops to follow suit).  Here's just a bit of Küng's scathing of Benedict:
     There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005). During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( “epistula de delictis gravioribus” ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the “secretum pontificium” , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope. Instead, the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed “urbi et orbi” by the dean of the College of Cardinals.  The consequences of all these scandals for the reputation of the Catholic Church are disastrous.
     Finally, Küng calls for the bishops to act by:
     That's the summary of the letter.  For details, click here.

Kiss my aspergillum.
Image Credits:
Top Image: Wikimedia Commons
Middle Image:
Bottom Image: The Daily Dish

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Christian Militia Busted by FBI for Plotting Insurrection against Government

     As the old hymn goes: "We are one in the Spirit [sic], we are one in the Lord [sic].  We pray that all unity may one day be restored and they'll know we are Christians by our guns, by our guns.  Yes, they'll know we are Christian by our love (of guns)."
Photo from

     Last week, self-proclaimed new-Isaiah Sarah Palin wrote on Twitter: "Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: 'Don't Retreat, Instead - RELOAD!' Pls see my Facebook page."  This week a group of right-wing Christians heeded her advice, and they are the ones going to jail.

     A right-wing Christian group named the Hutaree (a word the group's founder David B. Stone Sr. made up that means "Christian warriors"), says Jesus would lock and load and fire at the U.S. government.

     The Hutaree Web site features the motto “Preparing for the end time battles to keep the testimony of Jesus Christ alive” and a video showing rifle-toting men in camouflage running through woods and firing weapons. “Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,” the Web site says, adding, “The Hutaree will one day see its enemy and meet him on the battlefield if so God wills it.”
     Jesus wanted the Hutaree to use "equipment" to incite violence.  I don't remember that word being in the bible, just like stem cell research, abortion, global warming, evolution, etc., you know, the things right-wing groups claim the bible explicitly says are immoral or fake.  Proof-texting hypocrites!

     Thankfully, the FBI busted the Hutaree before they could start their parousia-inducing attack on the government.  (Palin also believes the apocalypse is near.)  The Times:
     In an indictment against the nine [Hutaree] unsealed on Monday, the Justice Department said they were part of a group of apocalyptic Christian militants who were plotting to kill law enforcement officers in hopes of inciting an antigovernment uprising, the latest in a recent surge in right-wing militia activity.  
     The court filing said the group, which called itself the Hutaree, planned to kill an unidentified law enforcement officer and then bomb the funeral caravan using improvised explosive devices based on designs used against American troops by insurgents in Iraq.  
    Why is it that if people of color or Muslims insight violence against the government it's call terrorism, but if a group of white Christians do it's called a militia?

     Eight defendants were arrested over the weekend in raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, the Justice Department said. The authorities arrested the Stones’ eldest son, Joshua M. Stone, 21, shortly before 9 p.m. Monday in Pittsford, Mich., about 20 miles west of his family’s home, an F.B.I. spokeswoman, Sandra Berchtold, said.
     I say lock them up and load 'em into the maximum security loony bin (especially for the mullet).