Overriding Obama’s veto so victims can sue Saudi Arabia

Congress passed a bill allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for enabling some of its citizens to carry out the attacks.  But President Obama vetoed the measure, saying that it would violate the principle that sovereign nations are immune from foreign lawsuits by private citizens and will open the United States to similar suits.

Yesterday, in a rare show of bipartisan unity, Congress overrode the veto.  That requires 2/3 of the vote, but this override was 97-1 in the Senate and 348 to 77 in the Senate, as Democrats voted against their own president.

That’s satisfying emotionally, but is it wise for Congress to interfere in foreign relations, traditionally the domain of the Executive Branch?  And is it wise to throw out sovereign immunity?  Won’t this jeopardize American military, intelligence, and diplomatic operatives, as well as claims from foreign citizens who don’t like us against the nation as a whole?  Or is it worth the risk to get back at Saudi Arabia? [Read more…]

Civil rights must be “preeminent” over religious liberty

The U. S. Commission on Civil Rights is recommending that civil rights be made “preeminent” in American jurisprudence.  Specifically, that civil rights claims–for example, those regarding sexual orientation and gender-identity–should always trump religious freedom claims.  There would thus be no religious exemptions, because newly-coined rights would have priority over constitutional rights. [Read more…]

The government funneling money to its friends

Banks being punished for their part in the mortgage bubble disaster must pay restitution to the tune of, in some cases, billions of dollars.  But the obligation may be satisfied, in part, by contributing to Democratic-leaning advocacy organizations.

That money could go into the U. S. Treasury, but instead it goes to favored private agencies.   Congress is considering a bill that would stop this practice.  After the jump, George Will explains the important constitutional issues at stake. [Read more…]

Defending that LCMS judge who opposes gay marriage

As we’ve blogged about, Municipal Judge Ruth Neely of Pinedale, Wyoming–a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–is in trouble for telling a reporter that she wouldn’t be able to perform a gay marriage.  Never mind that no one has asked her to, and that her job description doesn’t require her to perform any marriages whatsoever.  The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics wants to remove her from office.

Rev. Jonathan Lange, an LCMS pastor in Wyoming, has written a quite brilliant op-ed piece on the subject for the Wyoming News.  He takes up the charges that her religious beliefs demonstrate disqualifying bias and that she was speaking against the law of the land.  In doing so, he develops a useful distinction between “sin” and “law,” showing also how her accusers would be brought down by the same charges.

After the jump, I excerpt and link both Rev. Lange’s column and a response to the case and to the column by Holly Scheer in The Federalist. [Read more…]

The case of the trans-gender funeral director

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (1993) is still the law of the land and can be a potent weapon in cases involving the conflict between religious liberty and LBGT issues.  This was demonstrated in a case involving a Michigan funeral home that fired a male funeral director for violating the company’s dress code by insisting on wearing female clothes.

The Obama administration swept in to defend him and punish the funeral home, but–in what comes as a surprise these days–the owners, invoking the RFRA, won their case.  Michael Avramovich tells the tale. . . .

[Read more…]

Court blocks Obama’s bathroom mandate

Just in time for the new school year, a federal court has granted an injunction blocking the Obama administration’s decree that public schools must allow children to use whichever bathroom corresponds to their self-chosen gender identity, rather than their biological sex.  The injunction will hold until the issue is decided in the courts. [Read more…]