Court rules that Civil Rights laws cover LGBT bias

640px-Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_July_2,_1964Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights law bans discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, and sex.  The 7th Circuit federal appeals court ruled that the category of “sex” includes sexual orientation.  This would mean that any kind of discrimination against LGBT folks is illegal.

The ruling only applied to the 7th Circuit Court’s jurisdiction:  Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin.  That restriction isn’t made clear in all of the news reports I have read. But it sets up the issue for resolution by the Supreme Court.

Traditional thinking considers homosexuality in moral terms, rather than as an “identity.”  This ruling, if upheld, would bring the law down on the side of “identity,” something the culture has seemingly already done.

Where does that leave the moral traditionalists, including most conservative Christians?  (My discussion continues, with a report on the ruling, after the jump.) [Read more…]

The Trump campaign surveillance and unmasking

Susan_Rice,_official_State_Dept_photo_portrait,_2009It turns out the Trump campaign was under surveillance.  This was reportedly in connection with the surveillance of Russians that our intelligence agencies wanted to keep an eye on.  In the course of that operation, so it is said, various individuals connected to Donald Trump were also recorded.  The protocol, when that happens, is for the names of the individuals recorded but not under investigation to be blacked out from the intelligence reports, their names changed to “Person A,” “Person B,” etc. If there is a need for the investigating authorities to know who these people are, there is a process for “unmasking” them.  (Read what “unmasking” entails.)

It turns out that the Obama administration initiated the unmasking of those names, then widely circulating those reports, thus implicating Trump staffers in a Russian connection that might have been innocent.  (This may explain how the information came out–that is, was leaked–about Michael Flynn’s meeting with the Russian ambassador, something even Democrats routinely have done.)  We now know that Obama advisor Susan Rice initiated the unmasking.  As Andrew McCarthy points out, “the thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.”  Only three agencies do those:  the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies. The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

So all of this amounts to using White House power against a political opponent.   [Read more…]

And now, the nature rights movement 

Main_Ganga_river,_before_the_Bhimgoda_barrage,_HaridwarThe language of “rights” tends to win all arguments.  There are “human rights.”  These include “women’s rights,” “minority rights,” “gay rights.”  Then people started asserting “animal rights.”  A new strategy for some environmentalists is to assert “nature rights.”

In a recent victory for that movement, a river in New Zealand held sacred to the Maoris has been legally declared a “person.”  Similarly, a court in India declared that for the purposes of law the Ganges river, sacred to the Hindus, is also a “person.”

This is an odd accommodation for secular governments to be so deferential to religions.  But the impetus is not so much religious as environmentalist.  Wesley J. Smith, who writes about these developments (read him after the jump), quotes an environmental defense organization that is behind other attempts to claim “rights” for other “natural communities,” such as mountains, streams, and forests.

For an overview of this movement, see the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature website.  The nation of Ecuador has formally codified the rights of nature.

Smith points out the painful irony of affirming the personhood of rivers while denying the personhood of unborn children.  Similarly, some of the same people who are sympathetic to the rights of mountains and forests are opposing human rights to religious liberty, freedom of speech, and others principles of the Bill of Rights (such as the right to keep firearms).  And they are insisting on “nature rights” while rejecting “natural law.” [Read more…]

Criminalizing the opposition

defense-attorney-840062_640The state of California has slapped 15 felony charges on David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who made the undercover videos that revealed the organ-trafficking and other moral corruption of Planned Parenthood.  The charge:  recording “confidential information” without permission.

California has not, however, prosecuted similar secret video stings that exposed the mistreatment of ducks and chickens.  Rather, the state investigated the farm for its violations of animal rights.  Ducks and chickens evidently have more value to prosecutors than unborn human children.

David French, who points this out after the jump, also observes that there is California case law that exempts investigative reporters from charges against hidden recordings.  Furthermore, in this case, the Planned Parenthood employees did not know whom they were talking to and said what they did in a public place.  It could hardly be construed as “confidential information.”

A Texas grand jury also tried to convict Daleiden and Merritt on the even more ridiculous charge of trying to buy harvested organs, since that was the part they were playing when they recorded Planned Parenthood’s sales pitch.  That case was thrown out of court.  This one certainly deserves that treatment too.

But what we are seeing is the left’s attempt to criminalize its opponents. [Read more…]

Originalism and the rule of law

8459580668_6b116eeb71_zDuring his confirmation hearing for Supreme Court justice, liberal senators interrogated Neil Gorsuch about his judicial philosophy of “originalism.”

Because the founders used “he” to refer to the president, does this mean you don’t believe that a woman can serve in that office?

Because the authors of the 14th Amendment didn’t think about women or gays when they drew up the equal rights protection, does that mean you don’t think it applies to women or gays?

Judge Gorsuch replied that such questions show a misunderstanding of what “originalism” means.  That approach does not look for meaning in subjective interpretations of readers, whether of the time it was written or today.  Rather, it looks for meaning in what the law says.

To discern that, you have to research what the words meant to the lawmakers who passed the law; that is, their original intent.  But to interpret (or throw out) a law based on speculation about the personal beliefs of the authors–as opposed to what they said–is more like what liberal interpreters do when they interpret the laws according to their own personal beliefs.  Thus, “originalism” refers to the original language, not historical origins.

That is, originalists believe that the meaning of language and thus the law is objective, not subjective.  The 14th Amendment  guarantees the equal protection of the laws to all Americans, so that would include categories of Americans that the authors didn’t think of at the time.

The rule of law, notes an editorial on the subject (quoted and excerpted after the jump), depends on the law having an objective meaning.

This debate reminds me of different approaches to the Bible.  Do we interpret it according to what we want it to mean?  That’s basically the approach of liberal theology.  Or do we believe in what it says? [Read more…]

America’s first genderless person

3480129261_366d9afb00_zA Portland judge approved a petition from a 27-year-old man to legally change his gender to “genderless.”

In doing so, the petitioner’s name was legally changed to “Patch.”  No last name.

Patch also repudiates all pronouns.   “Even gender-neutral pronouns don’t feel as if they fit me,” Patch said. “I feel no identity or closeness with any pronouns I’ve come across. What describes me is my name.”  (Patch here does use “I,” “me,” and “my.”)

Patch is the first American to have the legal status of being “agender.”  And the judge who made the ruling is the first to make being genderless an actual legal category. [Read more…]