A couple of really scary things happened this week. They’re not Freddie Krueger scary, more like Michele Bachmann scary in the worst sense of her Tea Party mentality. It’s the kind of scary that results in people talking about slippery slopes and other metaphors for the undermining of the Constitution.
Let begin with Judge Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, of the big, giant Ten Commandments fame. Now, here’s a guy who is supposed to be sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States while meting out fair and impartial justice to those who would approach the bench. One might think a guy like that would be temperate in his official views and cautious about what he says and does in public. But you would be wrong.
Back in January, Judge Moore, speaking at a luncheon sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, was videotaped saying:
“Everybody, to include the U.S. Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called ‘religion.’ They can’t define it They can’t define it the way Mason, Madison and even the United State Supreme Court defined it, ‘the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.’ They don’t want to do that, because that acknowledges a creator god. Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the god of the Holy Scriptures…They didn’t bring a Koran over on the pilgrim ship, Mayflower. Let’s get real. Let’s go back and learn our history.”
If one were of a mind to diagram that quote for elements to stupidity, one would be at it for quite a while. The man is a bigot, to say the least, and no better than the Taliban or al-Qaeda . His lack of knowledge about other religious screams volumes and makes one wonder how anyone with so little fundamental knowledge made it to being Chief Justice. If it wasn’t so chilling a remark it would be comic. But it was and it is.
This might be a tempest in a teapot were it not for good ol’ SCOTUS. The Supremes, by a 5-to-4 majority, struck down a lower court’s ruling about prayers being offered at a town council meeting. Now, despite what Faux News and other mentally masturbatory news organs say, the suit was NOT about removing prayer completely, but about just how religious a public prayer can be. Now that we have that clear…
On PBS NewsHour, Marcia Colye explained it well:
…these two residents claimed that the prayers were almost exclusively Christian in nature, and that violated the First Amendment’s prohibition on government establishing a religion.
The lower federal appellate court here agreed with them. They said the overwhelming Christian nature of the prayers for nearly a decade gave the appearance of government endorsing religion, which violates the First Amendment. So the town brought the appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority said the court could not comment on the religiosity of the prayers, that to do so would be skirting religious censorship. It would put the courts in the position of having to analyze prayer and that was out of its scope. Of course, Justice Sotomayor sided with the three Jews, Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan. Justice Kagan, in writing for the minority, said that there was no apparent attempt to open the delivery of the convocation to other faiths or points of view, and this came close to presenting a clear bias in favor of Christianity. None of that is particularly scary.
Here comes the really scary part: it’s what came out of Justices Scalia and his cohort in so-far-right-it’s-wrong thinking, Clownence Thomas. In their view, the Constitution is solely a Federal document. They take the very first line literally:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The operative word in that sentence is CONGRESS, folks. Both of these fine fellas are of the opinion that the Constitution prohibits CONGRESS from establishing a preferred religion on the federal level, but it does NOT prevent the states themselves from doing it.
Ms. Coyle, in reporting the story, added….and this is the real important part:
Justice Thomas, first of all, repeated a longstanding belief of his that the First Amendment’s establishment clause doesn’t apply to the states, to states or local government, because the prohibition, he says, in the First Amendment’s text is on Congress. Congress shall make no law establishing or regarding the establishment of religion.
And he said that probably prevents Congress from establishing a national [religion] … But the text suggests that Congress cannot interfere with state establishments of religion.
Probably was the word he used. Probably prevent…..Really?
Michele B. and her little rightwing nut friends are gonna run with that one. What if states like Texas or Alabama or Mississippi suddenly found themselves with the ability to establish a state sponsored religion?
If one can conclude that SCOTUS has been bought and paid for by PACs and other deep pocketed groups, can one not, by extension see where the Roberts Court might stand aside in the establishment of state sponsored religion because they have deemed it a states’ rights issue? This is possibly the most slippery slope one can imagine. If you strip away the separation between church and state, and leave it up to the states to determine local religion, where does it stop? If your state is Lutheran, can Jewish kids stay home from school on the High Holy Days, or is that now prohibited? Can Catholic kids come to school with ashes on the foreheads on Ash Wednesday….or is that verboten, too?
Can you say Shi’ite and Sunni, boys and girls?
The Wifely Person’s Tip of the Week
Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. If you have a mother, call her.
If you no longer have a mother to call, tell someone about her,
and for those few minutes, it will be like she’s still alive.