Popular Delusions: Sovereign Citizens

CastleTower

This month, an Oregon pastor went on trial to face charges that he, like Kent Hovind before him, hadn't paid income taxes since 1994. On the stand, he offered a peculiar defense:Attorney Mark Weintraub argued that Ronald Joling has a deeply held belief that he is not required to pay federal taxes, which he claims was influenced by his conservative Christian views and teachings he's picked up from the sovereign citizen movement.The local newspaper The Register-Guard reported on … [Read more...]

Marriage Equality Isn’t Just for Same-Sex Couples

Scales

Last week, marriage equality made another giant stride in the United States. Three federal circuit courts covering different parts of the country had ruled against same-sex marriage bans; the supporters of those bans had appealed to the Supreme Court, but the Court turned those appeals down. By doing so, it made those decisions final. This means that eleven states under the jurisdiction of those three circuits - Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, West … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: September 6

Coffee

• This week, Bob McDonnell, a.k.a Virginia's former "Governor Ultrasound", was convicted by a jury on multiple counts of corruption. The schadenfreude-y part is that McDonnell ran for office as a religious-right, pro-marriage, Christian-family-values candidate, whereas his defense at trial basically consisted of arguing that his own marriage was a shambles and that everything he said on the campaign trail was a lie.• In weird and cool biology news: two unclassifiable animal species … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: Pound the Table

LegalPapers

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IVThe date of Hank Rearden's trial has arrived, so it's time for the obligatory Dramatic Courtroom Scene.The first thing we learn, as spectators file in, is that the Constitution has apparently been revoked, because there's no longer a right to trial by jury (which is guaranteed in Article 3 - it's more fundamental than even the Bill of Rights). When and how this happened, we aren't told. You might think this is a much bigger deal than the Equalization of … [Read more...]

This One Weird Trick Nullifies All Abortion Restrictions

OK, this is brilliant. The Satanic Temple is asserting that they have a religious-liberty right to ignore abortion restrictions, citing the Hobby Lobby decision:"While we feel we have a strong case for an exemption regardless of the Hobby Lobby ruling, the Supreme Court has decided that religious beliefs are so sacrosanct that they can even trump scientific fact. This was made clear when they allowed Hobby Lobby to claim certain contraceptives were abortifacients, when in fact they are … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: July 26

Coffee

I got back from Iceland yesterday and I'm still catching up on news that happened while I was away. Here are a few of the stories from my backlog:• More to come on this, but for now I'll just mention it briefly: a very welcome joint statement by Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson denouncing all forms of harassment, sexist and otherwise. I'm not prepared just yet to say this wipes the slate clean, but I'm cautiously optimistic!• Anti-abortion fanatics disrupt a Unitarian … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court Unleashes Chaos

The Supreme Court handed down its Hobby Lobby decision this week, and it was as bad as many of us had feared. In a 5-4 ruling (of course), five conservative male justices handed down the worst church-state decision in years, possibly even worse than the atrocious Hein decision: that a privately held corporation can impose limits on how workers use the health insurance they've earned as part of their compensation.For better or for worse, past cases about religious exemption have turned on the … [Read more...]

Atlas Shrugged: The Incorruptibles

SterlingSilver

Atlas Shrugged, part II, chapter IIThe time has come for the first of The Speeches. These are Ayn Rand's infamous filibusters in which the action comes to a halt so that one of her characters can deliver a lengthy philosophical lecture expounding their author's views. The speech in this chapter is one of the shorter ones - a mere 2,600 words, scarcely a footnote compared to what's coming later - but even that would take at least 20 minutes to recite at normal speed. Naturally, in the world … [Read more...]

The Supreme Court’s Ignorance on Secularism

GavelAndJustice

I'm coming late to the subject, but I wanted to circle back and talk about the Supreme Court's ruling in Town of Greece v. Galloway, where a 5-4 conservative majority held that official prayers before town meetings are constitutionally permissible.Make no mistake, this is a bad ruling, although not as bad as it could possibly have been. The one consolation is that the court didn't slam the door completely, as they could have done and have done in other cases; they didn't wipe out the right … [Read more...]

The New Untouchables

ParisLGBTRights

Last week in Kansas, one house of the state legislature passed the most savagely anti-gay bill to appear in the U.S. in a long time. In the name of "religious liberty", it would have repealed all equal-protection laws as they apply to LGBT people, allowing any business owner to deny service to a gay customer on a whim: restaurants could turn them away, doctors could refuse to treat them, department stores could put up "No Gays Allowed" signs. Even more shocking, the bill also applied to … [Read more...]


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