Kentucky clerk released from jail

Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who has been in jail for the last five days for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, has been released.  The judge who found her in contempt reasoned that since her deputies in the office are giving marriage licenses to gays, there is no need to hold her.  But the question of whether her signature will still have to appear on the licenses–the sticking point for her–does not seem to have been resolved, so this case may not be over. [Read more...]

Clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to gays is jailed

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, was found to be in contempt of court and put in jail.

I can see her losing her job if she won’t do what the state requires.  Actually, if she can’t do that job in good conscience, she should resign.  But putting her in jail?  Does this amount to criminalizing her Christian faith, which she says motivates her refusal?

UPDATE:  I see that she is an elected official and can only be removed by impeachment, which the conservative state legislature is considered unlikely to do.

[Read more...]

Government speech, individual speech, & public religion

A came across an unusually lucid discussion of the legal issues that loom behind some of the religion-in-the-public square cases.  As Noah Feldman explains, the courts have made a distinction between individual speech, in which pretty much anything goes, and government speech.  The government also can say pretty much what it wants to, which explains why it can choose to forbid confederate flags on license plates, or to permit pro-life slogans on license plates while forbidding pro-abortion slogans.

The main restriction on what a government can say is anything that could be construed as establishing a religion.  A government can choose to accept a Ten Commandments monument on public property.  But if it does, it has to accept similar monuments from other religions, so as to prove it is showing no favoritism.  This is why atheist and secularist groups are no longer trying so much to get religious symbols removed.  Rather, they are trying to get other monuments–Satanic, atheist, pagan–added so as to stand side-by-side with the Christian symbols.  That could work for a polytheistic society, as in St. Paul’s Athens or the Pantheon in Rome, but Christians specifically reject that, as in the “no other gods before me” part of the Ten Commandments on those monuments.

Feldman concludes that the choice must be either displays of religious diversity or no religious symbols at all on the part of the government.   Isn’t the latter alternative more faithful to the first table of the Ten Commandments?  Wouldn’t the religious diversity displays promote a syncretism that flies in the face of Christianity?  Do you see any weaknesses in Feldman’s argument, excerpted after the jump?  [Read more...]

Court rules that parents don’t have to be perfect

A mother in New Jersey left her sleeping daughter in the car for 5-10 minutes while she dashed inside a store in a suburban mall.  Someone noticed, and the mother was charged with child endangerment.  But the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in the mother’s favor, making an interesting legal distinction.

In a unanimous decision, the court said that the law must consider only actual harm, as opposed to possible harm.  That is to say, we worry about what might happen to the child left in the car (a bad guy could run away with her; she could wake up, start the car, and run it into a building, etc.).  But the law can only deal with what does happen.

Thus, as Lenore Skenazy explains the case, parents do not have to be perfect, lest their children be taken away from them. [Read more...]

ACLU gets Catholic hospital to sterlize a woman

The ACLU threatened to sue a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a sterilization procedure requested by a woman.  So it gave in, violating Catholic teachings.

I suspect the hospital could have won that legal battle.  But now not only lawsuits but the threat of lawsuits–with their huge financial toll even in a winning case–have become cudgels to extort compliance with ACLU demands.  I know of small towns that have removed religious imagery from their logos for similar threats.

Honest question:  Doesn’t the American Civil Liberties Union consider religion to be a civil liberty? [Read more...]

Court removes injunction on Planned Parenthood videos

The court removed an injunction that it had placed on the release of more Planned Parenthood sting videos, ruling that the Center for Medical Progress has a First Amendment right to show them.  The company that had been buying the fetal organs, StemExpress, asked the court to stop the release.  The company has since stopped doing business with Planned Parenthood, but apparently fears the revelations to come.  The latest video has the CEO joking about getting whole babies.

The Center for Medical Progress has several things going:  the sting videos of Planned Parenthood, sting videos of StemExpress, and confessions of a former employee of that company who had dealings with Planned Parenthood.  The pro-life organization is preparing a documentary putting together their findings. [Read more...]