Category Archives: Justice

The Bias Construct

Recent public conversations about the political nature of Supreme Court appointments, has surfaced again. No matter who is proposed, if they’ve lived, worked, met, and offered numerous legal opinions, any nominee is going to have opinions on key issues of their day.

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United States Supreme Court Building

Such confusion and double-talk exists in our public-politic, it’s amazing that anyone can be appointed. In a recent public speaking engagement at University of California, Berkeley, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had this to say.

“I’m saddened to see that many people have lost confidence in judges and believe they are political.”

Sotomayor made the comments while taking questions from law students. The school’s interim law school dean, Melissa Murray, served as Sotomayor’s clerk when the justice was a federal appellate court judge.

Sotomayor said judges try to be fair and impartial and don’t have rigid beliefs they apply to every case. She encouraged people to view judges as “human beings who care deeply about what we’re doing.”

This is an interesting response, considering her words elsewhere.

Sotomayor, spoke at the University of Minnesota on October 19, 2016, commenting that the Supreme Court was designed to have nine justices so it can break ties on difficult cases.

“We try to come to decision-making as best as we can,” she said. “Where we can find a very, very narrow way of deciding a case, we use it.”

Sotomayor compared Scalia’s death to the loss of a family member despite their differences.

“There are things he’s said on the bench where if I had a baseball bat, I might have used it,” she said.

Enter the new nominee Neil Gorsuch. There’s a leading headline in Rueters describing, “ideological balance at stake in confirmation fight” . Of course the usual politicos, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, are leading the opposition to his appointment along ideological lines. The Rueters article describes some of the opposition rational as to why he shouldn’t be appointed.

It’s a good thing Supreme Court judges are fair and impartial and don’t have rigid beliefs.

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Neil Gorsuch – Supreme Court nominee

Morals – Secular – Judeo-Christian

This is a response to the ideas proposed by some about their concerns of America becoming a secular nation rather than a Christian nation.

Dennis Prager frequently talks about how secular humanism is destroying the fabric of society. Let’s examine this claim, not only from his point but that of other independent thinkers.

I have to assume when people like Prager refer to Judeo-Christian values, he’s using the Bible as a reference. Using Deuteronomy 17, we find people should be stoned if they didn’t believe in their god. For many centuries, national religions had to be adhered to or people could be put to death for their failure to not only swear allegiance to the King or Queen, they had to believe in the official state religion. This is why you see secular influence in the Constitution, the founders of the United States wanted to ensure that people wouldn’t have to be swearing allegiance to a state religion. As a matter of fact, they’re isn’t a test of citizenship or holding the highest office, only if you believe in the supernatural. This in spite of the tradition of swearing-in by holding a hand on the Bible. We are after all, a nation of many contradictions.

You could suggest, this is old news, Christians don’t kill anymore because of the ideals in the new Testament, about loving your brother & sister, and to treat others as you want to be treated. Even this isn’t a new concept or one uniquely held by Christianity.

Cart – meet horse.

“One should always treat others as they themselves wish to be treated.” – Hitopadesa; Hinduism: 3200 BCE
“Thou shalt not avenge nor ear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” – Leviticus 19:18: 1300 BCE

In the New Testament, Jesus Christ took obedience and the threat of a horrible after life for failure to comply one step further by introducing the idea of thinking about banned ideas. If you think about committing a sin, you have broken the law. From the sermon on the mount ~
“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.”

If, as some insist, we take the Bible literally, if you even think lustful thoughts, you’re going to be in trouble and your only get out of jail free card is issued by the person telling you that your eye isn’t all that important, so get rid of it if you see something which makes you think of sex with anyone other than your spouse. That assumes you’re married, and if you aren’t, even the man or woman you might marry could be an object of sin.

I served in the Marine Corps for six years, and at that time was a believing Christian. I thought I was a moral person, but I was being trained to kill other people. The Marines first train everyone identically as infantry. Later, they’re assigned an occupational specialty which usually defines their military career. In my case, I was given the opportunity to go on to electronics schools and thereby was never placed into a kill or be killed situation. Many of my peers weren’t given that choice, they went to Vietnam. We didn’t leave that theater of operations for two years after I enlisted. So what about those who had to take the life of another person? They were told that it was for god and country, but was it really? We killed a lot of people, including our own for a cause our secular (supposedly Christian) government told us it was the right thing to do. Historically, that would be a very tough call, as the country ended up being led by corrupt leadership and becoming communist with Pol Pot taking over Cambodia. This isn’t a dilemma you consider when you’re placed into a life threatening situation, because most of the time you’re going to decide you must kill the other person to preserve your life. How does that fit in with, “Thou shall not kill”, or turn the other cheek when injured by someone?

We constantly see examples of people and their life, their homes, and their values being threatened by a powerful group that uses the authority of law to take away their possessions and their land. How is that justified if we base our laws on Judeo-Christian values? Contradictions in the Bible?

Moral problems have constantly challenged our humanity. Slavery was justified for hundreds of years by Christians, even though Prager said that Christians ended it. We’ve witnessed changes in attitudes toward various ethnicity, black people couldn’t hold leadership roles in the Mormon church until the late 1970’s. A former Mormon prophet once declared that even having one drop of African blood, a person couldn’t hold a leadership role or be married in their temples. This in spite of the fact that one of their past Biblical heroes, Joseph (Coat of many colors), was married to a woman who was black. Asenath was an Egyptian, who some deny her African heritage, stating that Egyptians have various skin tones. That’s a ridiculous stretch in logic to say, she might have had lighter skin, therefore she was Caucasian. Skin tone isn’t a test of African heritage. DNA would certainly be a more accurate marker. The truth is, we may never know for sure, but it’s fairly safe to conclude there were many LDS people who had African heritage but passed for Caucasian and therefore held office in their church prior to 1978.

There are many who insist the Bible tells them homosexuality is a sin, and for some they believe you can pray away the gay. If that’s the case, how do you do that, because I know most of us didn’t make a conscious decision to be heterosexual. There’s a lot more to this than someone going through puberty and becomes straight or gay. Leviticus 20:13 – Romans 1:27 Are we supposed to kill homosexuals. Again the Christian response doesn’t seem to be the higher moral ground, unlike the secular “non-believer” response of kindness and equality. This has changed over the years by many religious organizations, seemingly because of secular influence.

There are many religious organizations who believe having a pair of testicles, gives you greater insight into the workings of god. They insist that anyone who could give birth to another human, isn’t insightful and compassionate enough to be a priest, or in some churches, can’t make public pronouncements officially for their organization. Many churches have changed that view and now have female clergy. Did god tell them that was a good idea, or was it a secular nudge to do what is right?

When it comes to some of the most major criminal activities, we’ve seen Christians adopt changing standards, like murder, rape, or theft. It all depends on the reasons given by the one doing the crime? Justification for these activities have repeatedly been authorized in the Bible. Even the concept of original sin by Adam and Eve seems a bit over the top. Am I to be held responsible for my fathers sins? The LDS church said we were to be held responsible for our own sin and not Adams transgressions but then again, isn’t death itself supposed to be part of the original sin and the introduction of baptism a ritual to signify the person being born again into a new life free of these past problems? Even the death of Jesus Christ and the Garden of Gethsemane was supposed to be an act of getting rid of the past and allowing all who believe this to be factual, were going to be given a ticket into the kingdom of god.

Even the idea proposed by Prager is incorrect. The label “Judeo-Christian” tends to assume, at the expense of Judaism, that Christians and Jews believe essentially the same things. They don’t, and you can find numerous explanations for that if you wish to research it. Secular moral values don’t favor one tribe of civilization over another, unlike what we saw in the Bible or later proposed through doctrines of “manifest destiny in the US”. Just because one tribe of people supposedly has a very particular contract with God, it doesn’t negate the importance of the rule of law for everyone else. That’s a secular concept, too.

Rights – Laws – Public Opinion

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Letter of Amerigo Vespucci to Pier Soderini 1497

There’s not a moral imperative to challenge every public indiscretion or misconduct, however when threatened, we’re obligated to control our reactions based on the threat level.

Commitment to a cause isn’t the problem, it’s being committed to the right cause which creates progress and permits people to improve on their own volition. Would You Pass the “Red Shirt Warrior” Test?

Natural and legal rights are distinct types of rights. The two may intersect but aren’t synonymous.

Legal rights are those bestowed onto a person by a given legal system (i.e., rights that can be modified, repealed, and restrained by human laws).

Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable (i.e., rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws).

During the Age of Enlightenment, the concept of natural laws were used to challenge the divine right of kings. This concept became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, human rights law, and government, legal rights, first outlined in the Magna Charta, a form of early separation of heads of government from absolute power.

Up until this time period, Kings & Queens were seen as representative of God on earth, they deserved allegiance because of a divine blessing and above reproach moral character. Monarchs ruled through the social contract that gave them the power to declare anyone a traitor to the crown. Treason has been used against many people, putting to death anyone challenging the authority of the crown.

The concept of natural rights are used to challenge the legitimacy of usurping individual freedoms through governmental law. The distinction between natural law and natural rights are and have been argued throughout centuries of human declarations and legal precedent.

“All natural rights may be abridged or modified in their exercise by law.” – Thomas Jefferson, 1790.

“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action, according to our will, within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others.” – Thomas Jefferson

Natural rights, in particular, are considered beyond the authority of any government or international body to dismiss.

The Declaration of Independence

Section 2: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

All of this was the basis of the reasons for government to exist and for people to accept the authority of the newly formed government. The United States wasn’t recognized internationally as an independent body when these declarations were made.

Fundamental changes to the interpretation of these rights through legal precedents contradict natural rights. Laws where written to justify tyrannical and egregious behavior, defy natural rights. The most obvious contradictions were slavery & civil rights, including women suffrage (voting & property rights).

If you take a moment and think what are the most fundamental rights any human has three basic ideas should immediately come to mind.

  1. the right to exist unharmed
  2. the right to think independently without restrictions
  3. the right to own property

When the governed are threatened by the full force of government, losing life, freedom of speaking their mind, and loss of property, they are precipitously on the knife-edge of rebellion, or at the minimum, disrespect toward the law and those hired to enforce those laws.

The first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. Called the “Bill of Rights”, were designed to respect natural law, but as everyone should be aware legal and natural rights aren’t synonymous.

The Constitution and Bill of Rights have no role in “creating” rights. The Constitution itself is useful only insofar as it lays out the guidelines, structure, and organization of the government.

When people talk about rights, many have the confused belief that individuals or representatives or majorities can create rights by writing them down on a magical piece of paper.

Freedom of speech is absolute because you have the right to your own thoughts. Public opinion may not approve of those thoughts, but those are yours alone. The right to protect yourself from harm or be deprived of your property by anyone is absolute. Therefore owning firearms isn’t a right granted because of a Constitution or a court, it’s fundamental to yourself.

Because the founders of the United States understood human rights can be limited or curtailed by a corrupt government, they made their declarations public and swore their allegiance to the principles, even at peril of their own lives.

If you’re in doubt as to what each of these rights mean, rather than have someone else do your thinking for you, read their explanation in their personal writings.

“The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that . . . it is their right and duty to be at all times armed.” – Thomas Jefferson

“No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms (within his own lands or tenements).” – Thomas Jefferson

Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive. – Noah Webster, An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (Philadelphia 1787).

The power to resist oppression rests upon the right to possess arms:
Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined.
– Patrick Henry (Virginia ratifying convention – June 2 through June 26, 1788)

America is being cleverly divided, to be controlled through division and animosity.

REFERENCES

University of Virgina ~ Collections of Thomas Jefferson
Quotes from the Framers and Their Contemporaries
United States Declaration of Independence – Wikipedia
John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property
Constitution of the United States – Bill of Rights
Rights Don’t Come From Governments
Federalist Papers

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