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Oh, Good Lord:

Stop the ACLU favorably quotes this press release:

The Reverends Rob Schenck . . . and Patrick J. Mahoney will visit ACLU headquarters today to hand-deliver more than 20,000 petitions demanding that the left-leaning liberal attack group back off of terrorizing communities and individuals who seek to affirm America's Judeo-Christian values.

Schenck, who heads up Faith and Action in the Nation's Capital, and Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, asked their respective members to sign the statements after the ACLU sued a small rural school district in Adams County, Ohio, over four displays of the Ten Commandments in front of public schools there. The ACLU won an order for the Commandments to be removed, then demanded that the school reimburse them for legal expenses. After Christian ministers in the community stepped forward with a pledge to replace the money taken from the school budget, the ACLU settled for $80,000.

"The ACLU is this generation's Ku Klux Klan," said Rev. Rob Schenck. "They gallop into small towns with legal hoods over their heads and terrorize good people by threatening to harm children by draining the coffers of local schools if they so much as dare to recognize our nation's true heritage. These ACLU bullies are nothing more than psychological terrorists." . . .

Yup, that's right, ACLU=KKK, presumably just like on the other side Bush=Hitler. Murdering blacks and threatening blacks is very closely related to filing lawsuits to enforce what courts have, rightly or wrongly, held to be the constitutional rule. Oh, and it's terrorizing, too: A terrorist who murders innocent civilians is a fine analogy for a lawyer who files a lawsuit that you think should be meritless (though under our legal system's rules is likely meritorious).

Might it be possible that someone you strongly disagree with is . . . simply misguided? Takes an erroneous view of the Constitution? Has a misplaced sense of priorities? Is something other than a Klansman, a terrorist, a Nazi, a fascist, or whatever else?

UPDATE: I wrote that "Stop the ACLU favorably quotes this press release" because the post quoted the release and then said "I'm not sure it will do any good, but its great to see that people are out there fighting the good fight with us."

The Stop the ACLU people now tell me, though, that they don't endorse the press release's description of the ACLU; an update on their post reads: "I do not think the ACLU are terrorists as in killing people. I don't think they are anything like the KKK as far as race goes. While I understand the feelings, I do not endorse these descriptions of the ACLU, but I do endorse the action of taking the petitions asking them to back off." I'm pleased that Stop the ACLU takes this view, though puzzled as to why they would nonetheless quote the press release favorably. In any event, my criticism of the press release, and of those who would endorse it, still stands.

Sam (mail) (www):
StopTheACLU loves comparing the ACLU to lots of groups that it has nothing to do with - see the hammer and sickel in the website's design. Because, obviously, the ACLU can be easily compared to the USSR under Stalin.
11.18.2005 10:41am
Ex parte McCardle:
Godwin's Law, in some guise, never takes long to rear its head.
11.18.2005 10:43am
ur_land:
@ Sam: The link between the ACLU and communism is a little more plausible, given the well documented (as discussed on this site) communist leanings/sympatheis of the ACLU's founder.

Of course, even that is a logical fallacy, becasue it confuses the beliefs/guiding purpose in the past of one of the ACLU's founders with the current beliefs/guiding purposes of the organization.
11.18.2005 10:57am
Hank:
Eugene's comparison of ACLU=KKK and Bush=Hitler is gratutious and unfair, except in the sense that both comparisons are inaccurate. But they are inaccurate for different reasons. ACLU=KKK is inaccurate because the two groups' goals and practices have no similarities. Bush=Hitler is inaccurate because Hitler was obviously incomparably worse than Bush. But the point of the equation, to those who make it, is that Bush and Hitler both authorized the torture and murder of innocent people, launched wars of aggression, and imprisoned people indefinitely without filing charges.
11.18.2005 10:58am
Jay (mail) (www):
Actually the sickle and hammer are in reference to the ACLU's founder, who was a huge fan of communism, and actually stated that it was his goal.

As for the quotes comparing it to the KKK, thos are not my quotes, and I agree that on the surface those remarks are overzealous. However, they are analogies, and have nothing to do with race, or killing people. They did say "physcological" terrorism.
11.18.2005 11:01am
Steve:
I made the following predictions upon reading this post:

1) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "Bush=Hitler" argument;
2) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "ACLU=KKK" argument; and
3) #2 would occur before #1.

I was right about the first, wrong about the third, and the jury is still out on the second, although I consider it a virtual lock.
11.18.2005 11:03am
Jack John (mail):
There is some truth to the ACLU=KKK argument. The KKK controlled politics through terrorism. The ACLU controls politics through support of judicial activism. Judicial activism is a kind of terrorism.
11.18.2005 11:06am
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Are we in a war on judicial activism, then?
11.18.2005 11:09am
Hank:
I don't know whether Jack John means for his post to be taken seriously, but, if he does, then his views are dangerous for two reasons. First, to call judicial activism a kind of terrorism is to weaken the word "terrorism" almost to the point of meaningless. Second, to criticize the ACLU for supporting judicial activism is to say that lawyers should not represent their clients zealously, and is thus to advocate ending the adversarial system of justice.
11.18.2005 11:10am
Matt Barr (mail) (www):
What does the KKK have to say about some other organization being today's KKK? That's what I want to know.
11.18.2005 11:14am
Ed:
Ok, I agree that it is a bad comparison.

I do have a legal question though, it is my understanding that the person being sued if he is successful can recover his legal fees.

Can the person or orgnaization that instigates the lawsuit if victorious also require the person sued to pay for their legal fees? This would seem to be an unreasonable expense for the "little guy".
11.18.2005 11:22am
Jack John (mail):
First, to call judicial activism a kind of terrorism is to weaken the word "terrorism" almost to the point of meaningless.

I agree that such views -- made in jest, btw -- are ill-advised. They are not dangerous.

First, it does not weaken the concept of "satire" to call "Married with Children" satire. It is true that Tartuffe is a higher-brow kind of satire. That doesn't mean Married with Children is not satire simply because it is more vulgar. Same as with terrorism. There can be somewhat bad kinds of terrorism and kinds of terrorism that are worse than that. They're still all bad.

Second, to criticize the ACLU for supporting judicial activism is to say that lawyers should not represent their clients zealously

Eh. No. To criticize the ACLU is to point out that they often exceed zealous representation and often put forth frivolous arguments, which are in turn hastily slapped down by the courts. It is not within one's ethical duty to clog the courts with frivolous arguments: indeed, it is sanctionable. I would also note that the ACLU often engages in what would be champerty if they took money for their representation. Champerty is not ethical.
11.18.2005 11:27am
Hank:
Ed, the general "American" rule is that neither side can recover his legal fees from the other. But Congress has enacted many exceptions, and these vary. Under the civil rights laws, including 42 U.S.C. 1983, which the ACLU presumably used in the case that Eugene describes, a prevailing plaintiff may recover fees except in special circumstances, but a prevailing defendant may recover fees only if the court finds that the suit was "frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation." The reason for the double standard is precisely what you suggest: fee-shifting is intended to level the playing field for the little guy, unless he brings a frivolous suit.
11.18.2005 11:27am
MDJD2B (mail):
Steve wrote:
"I made the following predictions upon reading this post:

1) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "Bush=Hitler" argument;
2) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "ACLU=KKK" argument; and
3) #2 would occur before #1.

I was right about the first, wrong about the third, and the jury is still out on the second, although I consider it a virtual lock."

OK, I'll bite. To the best of my knowledge, no member of etieht group has recently been in my kitchen.
11.18.2005 11:30am
Hank:
This is a postscript to my reply to Ed's posting. He is concerned about the little guy who is sued. The civil rights laws presume that the little guy is usually a victim of discrimination or of an unconstitutional act and is the one who sues. The defendant is usually a governmental entity or a corporation.
11.18.2005 11:35am
Hank:
Jack John: It is usually when the ACLU's "frivolous" arguments win that people get upset and blame the ACLU for the state of the law. The ACLU's filing of frivolous complaints in losing cases isn't often complained of. That's not to say that you shouldn't complain of it if you wish. I wonder if you have any examples.
11.18.2005 11:43am
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
I guess anything someone doesn't like, or that might lead to a result that someone doesn't like, is a form of terrorism.

Here I thought that terrorism had a fairly definable definition -- the use of force or violence against people or property to coerce societies into what the terrorist wants. Using the courts would seem to be the OPPOSITE of terrorism -- employing the rule of law to achieve ends. If judicial activism terrorism, is political activism also necessarily terrorism? If a small group of liberals proposes a bill that makes some people unhappy and pushes, through the democratic process, to get it passed, is that terrorism?

"'I don't know what you mean by "glory,"' Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"' 'But 'glory' doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,"' Alice objected. 'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean- neither more nor less.' 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.' 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master- that's all.'
11.18.2005 11:46am
Neal R. (mail):
To Steve's prediction I will add my own that several commentors will take this opportunity to complain of the stupidity and/or moral failings of "the Left" or "the Right" generally.
11.18.2005 11:55am
markm (mail):
Ex-fed: The use of the courts (or police or any other arm of the government) includes the prospective use of force. However, I'd define terrorism as "the use of unlawful force or violence against people or property to coerce societies into what the terrorist wants."
11.18.2005 11:58am
Joel B.:
Of course, Sanford was only enforcing a rule that the courts had held to be constitutional too.

That's not to say they're the same, they're absolutely not, but just cause a court says something is constitutional or not, hardly makes it right to "enforce" such a ruling.

That being said the ACLU is not this generation's KKK, the ACLU may be this generation's Joseph McCarthy however.
11.18.2005 11:58am
Jack John (mail):
If judicial activism terrorism, is political activism also necessarily terrorism? If a small group of liberals proposes a bill that makes some people unhappy and pushes, through the democratic process, to get it passed, is that terrorism?

Here's the problem with your attack. If it passed through the legislature, it wasn't just "a small group of liberals" who voted for it. They brokered and compromised and forged coalitions. That is democracy. It is majority rule. If the court imposes something on the majority against its will, that is not majority rule. Political activism and judicial activism are distinct in that one is consistent with majority rule and the other is not.

In the same way, judicial activism and terrorism as you define it -- "the use of force or violence against people or property to coerce societies into what the terrorist wants" -- subverts majority rule. By the way, many people consider the use of a court order or decree to be use of force, especially when it is backed up by marshals who bear guns.
11.18.2005 12:00pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
That being said the ACLU is not this generation's KKK, the ACLU may be this generation's Joseph McCarthy however.


Isn't that comparison rather unfair to Joseph McCarthy?

;)
11.18.2005 12:03pm
Per Son:
Jack John:

Since when was democracy the same as majority rule. Never. The courts are there that very reason. You present a highly activist view of our government's constitutional structure.
11.18.2005 12:04pm
Mike Lorrey (mail) (www):
Given that Gus Breton, in New Hampshire, has been described by the state attorney general as a 'paper terrorist' for using the legal process to pursue liens against prosecutors and judges who defaulted on contracts with him, has been jailed and denied due process, I don't feel so bad about the ACLU. The screeching class has been using the 'terrorist' label against anyone who seeks accountability for the legal professions PTB. Lets hold them to their own standard.
11.18.2005 12:06pm
Justin (mail):
The ACLU took my baby away, they took my baby, away from me.

When did Volokh posters become this kooky?
11.18.2005 12:09pm
Zargon (mail):
To Steve's prediction I will add my own that several commentors will take this opportunity to complain of the stupidity and/or moral failings of "the Left" or "the Right" generally.

Queue Houston Attorney in 4...3...2...

Wait, I just accused him of gratuitous left bashing. Does that count as a moral failing? If so, I guess I win.
11.18.2005 12:09pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
"If the court imposes something on the majority against its will, that is not majority rule. Political activism and judicial activism are distinct in that one is consistent with majority rule and the other is not.

In the same way, judicial activism and terrorism as you define it -- "the use of force or violence against people or property to coerce societies into what the terrorist wants" -- subverts majority rule. By the way, many people consider the use of a court order or decree to be use of force, especially when it is backed up by marshals who bear guns."


So judicial review is terrorism? Was Marbury v. Madison the start of a reign of terror? Or is it only terrorism if, by somebody's standard, the judicial reversal of a legislative or executive act was "wrong?"
11.18.2005 12:11pm
plunge (mail):
"Actually the sickle and hammer are in reference to the ACLU's founder, who was a huge fan of communism, and actually stated that it was his goal. "

This is the sort of disgusting small-mindedness that has infected our political debate. People respond to little tidbits like this without any sense whatsoever of their original historical context (communism back then not being seen in the light that it has come to today: the horrors of Stalin and Mao DID disgust many former communists and turn them off), or of decades of development and changes in organizations like the ACLU. It's like obsessing about the fact that the founder of the nation owned slaves, and therefore America is a country of slavery. That's how detestably idiotic our political debates have become.
11.18.2005 12:15pm
Jack John (mail):
1. I never said judicial activism = terrorism. I said judicial activism is a kind of terrorism.
2. I never said that judicial review = judicial activism.
3. Since when did democracy = majority rule, you ask?


democracy

SYLLABICATION: de·moc·ra·cy
PRONUNCIATION: d-mkr-s
NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. de·moc·ra·cies
1. Government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives. 2. A political or social unit that has such a government. 3. The common people, considered as the primary source of political power. 4. Majority rule. 5. The principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community.
ETYMOLOGY: French démocratie, from Late Latin dmocratia, from Greek dmokrati : dmos, people; see d- in Appendix I + -krati, -cracy.
11.18.2005 12:20pm
Hugh59 (mail) (www):
Spurious comparisons (ACLU=KKK; Bush=Hitler) are always embarrassing...but they seem to be common currency in the political discource.

What I really oppose is having my tax dollars spent supporting ideas I oppose. I oppose what the ACLU is doing with respect to the Ten Commandments. Many people have a hard time believing what the laws in this nation have devolved into (anyone care to quote Scalia on that). These people end up being fair game to the public interest law firms that have attorneys on staff and can file suit anywhere they find a violation.

The ACLU can have my tax dollars when they are pried from my cold, dead fingers.

Nah...ignore me; I am IN one of those foul moods.
11.18.2005 12:22pm
FXKLM:
I think it might be best not to open comments for posts about the ACLU. For some reason, they tend to degenerate into very ugly and unenlightening comment threads.
11.18.2005 12:24pm
Bob Flynn (mail):
Darn, Volokh, you are too damn sensible!

Yes, I think the ACLU is often wrong, misguided, and ideologically driven.

But (grumble, grumble), they are nothing like the Hitler, Stalin, and the KKK, and comparisons to same are way overboard and offensive.
11.18.2005 12:24pm
Defending the Indefensible:
Re: Champerty

Doesn't it seem that contingency-fee based plaintiffs' attorneys are generally engaged in champerty?
11.18.2005 12:32pm
Sam (mail) (www):
Just so I'm clear: because the founder of the ACLU had Communist leanings, the current organization can be compared to the Soviet Union, one of the most brutal regimes in history?

The real point isn't the stupidity of this all - although that's always worth mentioning - but rather the damage this is doing to legitimate debate in this country. If we can disagree on something without our opponents being Hitler, the KKK, or Soviets what then is the point of the debate?

Our country ought to be better than this.
11.18.2005 12:33pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Given that Gus Breton, in New Hampshire, has been described by the state attorney general as a 'paper terrorist' for using the legal process to pursue liens against prosecutors and judges who defaulted on contracts with him, has been jailed and denied due process, I don't feel so bad about the ACLU. The screeching class has been using the 'terrorist' label against anyone who seeks accountability for the legal professions PTB. Lets hold them to their own standard.

Gus Breton is a nutcase who was committing fraud. Now, maybe fraud isn't itself "terrorism," but it adds the element of unlawfulness that the ACLU's actions lack.
11.18.2005 12:34pm
therut (mail):
The ACLU is nothing but another "special interest group" and one I do not support. I really wish Congress would allow the NRA to recover its expences when it sues since it is also fighting for a constitutional right. Wonder how the Dems would feel about that. Oh, I know they would spit and holler. Thank goodness for the initial seed money of 20,000 from Congress for establishing the NRA. Yep sometimes they do something right. B
11.18.2005 12:38pm
Steve:
What I really oppose is having my tax dollars spent supporting ideas I oppose.

This concept can be applied to lots of things. The war...


On a separate note, I cannot remember the name of the influential legal thinker I read 15 years ago who said we must understand the legal system in terms of the "violence" it inflicts upon litigants, but I am fairly certain the point was not intended as hyperbole.
11.18.2005 12:39pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Since reading Florence King's When Sisterhood Was in Flower, where a Lefty character refers to "our Judo-Christian heritage," I've found it difficult to keep a straight face when someone starts talking about "Judeo-Christian" anything.
11.18.2005 12:42pm
Hugh59 (mail) (www):
Steve, what I hate is for my tax dollars to go straight into the pockets of an advocacy group.

How would you feel if the Christian Coalition or the ACLJ was awarded litigation costs for defending religious liberties?
11.18.2005 12:51pm
Marcus1:
Jack John,

Currently, we generally don't distinguish between different levels of terrorism, some serious and some not so serious. Currently, "terrorism" is a much more powerful word than "satire." That being the case, starting to refer to anything undesirable as terrorism --such as "judicial activism" -- could indeed weaken the meaning of terrorism.
11.18.2005 12:53pm
Per Son:
I'll rephrase - American democracy does not equal majority rule.

SEE United States of America Constitution.
11.18.2005 1:00pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
"To criticize the ACLU is to point out that they often exceed zealous representation and often put forth frivolous arguments, which are in turn hastily slapped down by the courts. It is not within one's ethical duty to clog the courts with frivolous arguments: indeed, it is sanctionable. I would also note that the ACLU often engages in what would be champerty if they took money for their representation. Champerty is not ethical."

(1) I agree with Hank's point that "It is usually when the ACLU's 'frivolous' arguments win that people get upset and blame the ACLU for the state of the law. The ACLU's filing of frivolous complaints in losing cases isn't often complained of." (Just to make it clear, I take it that Hank is also stressing that an argument that wins surely isn't considered legally "frivolous.") I also agree with Hank's follow-up that "That's not to say that you shouldn't complain of it if you wish. I wonder if you have any examples." Is there in fact a substantial number of such examples?

(2) Is there any actual legal authority for the proposition that rounding up people to represent in lawsuits is "not ethical"? I do believe this was once upon a time the rule. It is not the current ethical rule in our legal system, and as another poster pointed out, various lawyers (including conservative public interest firms that litigate property rights cases and gun rights cases) do this commonly.

Of course, if the poster was using "ethical" to refer to lay ethics rather than the rules of legal ethics, then the question is why such behavior (whether engaged in for money or not) should be considered unethical.
11.18.2005 1:05pm
Anon1ms (mail):
"How would you feel if the Christian Coalition or the ACLJ was awarded litigation costs for defending religious liberties?"

If the defendants were unconstitutionally depriving individuals of their religious liberties, then they should recover the litigation costs, assuming they meet the tests for recovery.

BTW, is this entire argument based on the stoptheaclu.com posting, or has someone actually looked into the facts of the case? Stoptheaclu.com may be correct in all assertions made, but it is hardly an impartial source of information.
11.18.2005 1:12pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
How would you feel if the Christian Coalition or the ACLJ was awarded litigation costs for defending religious liberties?


Didn’t we have a bit to-do over whether religious groups that provided relief to victims of Hurricane Katrina should be able to receive reimbursement for some of their expenses from FEMA?
11.18.2005 1:15pm
Steve:
I think if the government violates the rights of some interest group, they should pay that interest group's attorneys' fees for seeking redress, absolutely. It really makes no difference if the interest group happens to be one I agree with, nor should it.
11.18.2005 1:17pm
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
I'm not a Christian fundamentalist but I do take my identity from - for want of a better term - the Christian ethos. It was part of my schooling in the UK and it tends to become a part of you, even though you may not be a church going zealot.

So attacks on the Christian tradition - it's symbols, myths, festivals - frankly dismays me. It is by far the majority religion in the US and the spirit of the faith-based life, as lived by the Puritans, helped to inform the Constitution of the US. Christianity is written into the fabric of the U.S. and is a part of its received identity.

When Christmas pageants are banned in schools with a majority Christian student body, and even the term "Merry Christmas" placed on the PC list of incorrect phrases, you realize pretty clearly that there is a vigorous agenda at work to destroy this aspect of the American identity. Notice I didn't use the word "conspiracy".

Recently we had some people in Las Cruces, New Mexico, raising a stink because the emblem of the city consists of three crosses - fashioned in a rather abstract fashion, as it happens, so you can't really determine if they are three exact crosses or some type of design. Nonetheless these protestors are deeply offended by this.

It's ironical that in both N.America and Europe there is this appetite for destroying traditional symbols of our Western heritage, while Muslims stubbornly resist subjecting their religious tradition to attrition. On the contrary, they seem ever more determined to assert their Islamic identity, even as European and American activists of the ACLU variety seek to trash every reminder of Christendom.

Recently on Harry's Place there was a story about a ban enacted by Dudley Council in the U.K. Apparently a Muslim employee took exception to the sight of pigs in the office ... I mean procelain piggies, pigs on mugs, ties etc etc. So Dudley Council in its infinite wisdom banned all such trivia in its workplace.

This rather comical example shows the degree to which some people are prepared to go in order to accommodate this rather obscure PC cultural agenda, that seems predicated on being offended - constantly or at least most of the time - by words, symbols, monuments etc that form the backbone of our Western heritage.
11.18.2005 1:23pm
Michael B (mail):
1) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "Bush=Hitler" argument;
2) Some commenter would claim there is at least some truth to the "ACLU=KKK" argument; and
3) #2 would occur before #1.
a commenter's predictions

I predicted the first two, not the third. If the third would have occurred to me I would have predicted it in reverse order, in the order it did in fact occur. Facile presumptives and arrogationists on the Left are far more attuned and far more practiced in both establishing and maintaining the social/political Lingua Franca they deem to be correct. By far. In fact the right more typically is caught flat-footed and inept (e.g., the ACLU=KKK formulation itself) and in a reactive posture, rather than proactive and more thoughtful. The Left is adept in this enterprise; the right more typically reacts and fumbles.

Plenty of exceptions to this on the Left, as there are exceptions on the right as well. E.g., it's a rich and telling irony that the Bush or Bush/Blair=Hitler formulation represents a kind of brown shirted logofascism itself.
11.18.2005 1:29pm
P J Evans (mail):
It may be worth reminding people that it was the Puritans (and, IIRC, the good folk of Plymouth Colony) who tried to outlaw the celebration of Christmas, reasoning that it should be a religious holiday and not a secular occasion.
11.18.2005 1:31pm
xx:
Michael B - A comically bombastic way of making an entirely unsupported point.
11.18.2005 1:32pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
Aidan Maconachy,

If the residents of Las Cruces are leery of crosses, they had best rename their city. I suggest they call it "Turnip."

I looked up the city's website, and the crosses are stylized into practical invisibility anyway. I do not understand people getting into snits about such things.
11.18.2005 1:37pm
Michael B (mail):
xx,

In point of fact it can be taken quite literally, even though I did add a very small pinch of rhetoric. Brave response though.
11.18.2005 1:51pm
John Armstrong (mail):
Ex parte McCardle:
One might not want to invoke Godwin's Law here. In that case, the ACLU will automatically win the argument.
11.18.2005 1:52pm
Jack John (mail):
Jack John,

Currently, we generally don't distinguish between different levels of terrorism


Who is "we"? Sure we do. The Department of Homeland Security has a color-coding system to do just that!
11.18.2005 2:05pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Aidan Maconachy has it right. Barry Lynn and the ACLU want no religion symbolism in anything even remotely connected to the government. This would be better if government were getting smaller. But government is getting bigger.

Myself, I think it is an excellent reason to get rid of government run schools. Why we think the government should practice thought control on our children is beyond me. And I'm not talking about a conspiracy either. Why do we think the government should control the education of more than 90% of our children when we don't think the government should control over 90% of our newspapers, 90% of our radio stations, 90% of our television programs and 90% of our blogs? Aren't children easier to mislead than adults? Why do we tolerate such an amazing concentration of power?

Yours,
Wince
11.18.2005 2:09pm
Jack John (mail):
Eugene Volokh: (2) Is there any actual legal authority for the proposition that rounding up people to represent in lawsuits is "not ethical"? I do believe this was once upon a time the rule. It is not the current ethical rule in our legal system, and as another poster pointed out, various lawyers (including conservative public interest firms that litigate property rights cases and gun rights cases) do this commonly.

Indeed there is a federal law set forth at 49 USCS §1136, titled "Assistance to Families of Passengers Involved in Aircraft Accidents," which became effective in 1997, that would prevent "rounding up people to represent" in a lawsuit. The applicable language of the federal law reads:

Prohibited Actions

Unsolicited communications. In the event of an accident involving an air carrier providing inter-state or foreign air transportation, no unsolicited communication concerning a potential action for personal injury or wrongful death may be made by an attorney or any potential party to the litigation to an individual injured in the accident, or to a relative of an individual involved in the accident, before the 30th day following the date of the accident.
11.18.2005 2:11pm
Justin (mail):
Merry Christmas" placed on the PC list of incorrect phrases

Yea, only in Bill O'Reilly's America can DEPARTMENT STORES be "anti-Christmas."

You need to, I don't know, go out more. I'm sure you're scared that someone's going to come and take God right out of your pocket, but if you haven't met anyone that Fox News seems to be raging against, it is perhaps that they are getting you angry for the sake of getting you angry.
11.18.2005 2:17pm
Eh Nonymous (mail) (www):
In the spirit of the predictor, above, and the Never Been In My Kitchen responder,

I'm hoping someone will come up with the Bush=ACLU and Clinton=Coast Guard equivalencies. Difficulty: no dirty jokes.

Anyone?
11.18.2005 2:18pm
Justin (mail):
"Unsolicited communications. In the event of an accident involving an air carrier providing inter-state or foreign air transportation, no unsolicited communication concerning a potential action for personal injury or wrongful death may be made by an attorney or any potential party to the litigation to an individual injured in the accident, or to a relative of an individual involved in the accident, before the 30th day following the date of the accident."

Okay, every ACLU member to Guantanamo. Now. Good day. I said Good Day.
11.18.2005 2:18pm
Jack John (mail):
Eugene,

I think it is interesting that you broadly interpreted Hank's claim. ("I take it that Hank is also stressing that an argument that wins surely isn't considered legally "frivolous.") I suppose that is fair. You also broadly interpreted my statement "Champerty is not ethical" to mean "rounding up people to represent in lawsuits," which would seem to include barratry as well. Very kind of you.

It turns out that champerty is no longer illegal in strict letter, but it is in spirit and reality. Here is the relevant California legal ethics.


To guard against the perceived evils once addressed by the common law doctrines of maintenance and champerty, California has erected other protections. Common law barratry - the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings with a corrupt or malicious intent to vex and annoy - remains a misdemeanor under Penal C. §§ 158 &159. See Howard v. Superior Court (1975) 52 Cal.App.3d 722, 727, 125 Cal.Rptr. 255. Frivolous suits are discouraged by the availability of sanctions under Code Civ. Proc. §§ 128.5 and 128.7 and malicious prosecution actions. Sheldon Appel Co. v. Albert &Oliker (1989) 47 Cal. 3d 863, 254 Cal.Rptr. 336, 765 P.2d 498. Overreaching by attorneys in a superior bargaining position to clients is regulated by statutory limitations on contingency fees, Business and Professions Code § 6146, and by Rule of Professional Conduct 4-200 which prohibits unconscionable fees.
11.18.2005 2:19pm
Jack John (mail):
Eugene,

According to Eugene Volokh, “One can (and, in my view, often should) disagree with the ACLU's substantive positions.”

http://volokh.com/ archives/archive_2005_07_31-2005_08_06. shtml.

I suppose it is possible that all ACLU substantive positions one should disagree with are meritorious. But merely having substance (e.g., coherent political philosophical reasoning, or a decent casserole recipe) does not mean a legal brief is not frivolous. Are you willing to go on the record now and say that all ACLU positions one should disagree with are not frivolous?
11.18.2005 2:26pm
Aultimer:

Aidan Maconachy - the spirit of the faith-based life, as lived by the Puritans, helped to inform the Constitution of the US. Christianity is written into the fabric of the U.S. and is a part of its received identity.


Seems like the textbooks in Ole England skip a few pertinent bits. FYI - Pocahontas was not present at the Boston Tea Party, nor the signing of the Declaration of Independence, despite what you might see in Disney movies.

The founders were not Puritans, but a mix of Congregationalists, Quakers and deists (what you'd call "liberals"), with a smattering of Catholics and Church of England types. Few that would be called Evangelicals or mainstream Protestants by today's standards.
11.18.2005 2:33pm
David Matthews (mail):
"This would be better if government were getting smaller. But government is getting bigger."

Amen. Um, I mean, Right On.
11.18.2005 2:33pm
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
Fox News ... God ... ???

Wrong person perhaps. Just to be clear - I'm not on a crusade of any sort. You don't have to watch Fox News to get this. Maybe you need to get out more.

These traditions are fine as long as they aren't used in a triumphalist fashion. I think all other religious traditions should be given their place also.

I'm not interested in living in a PC secural heterodoxy in which self-appointed hacks tell me what to believe and what to say - and Fox bloody News has nothing to with it!
11.18.2005 2:37pm
Steve:
I predicted the first two, not the third. If the third would have occurred to me I would have predicted it in reverse order, in the order it did in fact occur. Facile presumptives and arrogationists on the Left are far more attuned and far more practiced in both establishing and maintaining the social/political Lingua Franca they deem to be correct. By far.

To be clear, my prediction as to the sequence of events was based upon my experience with the commentors on this blog, not on any overall belief regarding the "Right" and the "Left." It is my experience that generalizations concerning those huge, ill-defined groups tend to be rather silly.
11.18.2005 2:45pm
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
Hi Aultimer - thanks for the correction. I was using "puritan" in a generic rather than secetarian fashion. As you know Benjamin Franklin was raised as an actual Puritan (literally) - so even that influence came into play.

I have to disagree on your characterization of the founding fathers as "liberals" if you are trying to approximate the term with what we know today as liberalism. They were anything but. The break down was as follows ...

The denominational affiliations of these men were a matter of public record. Among the delegates were 28 Episcopalians, 8 Presbyterians, 7 Congregationalists, 2 Lutherans, 2 Dutch Reformed, 2 Methodists, 2 Roman Catholics, 1 unknown, and only 3 deists--Williamson, Wilson, and Franklin--this at a time when church membership entailed a sworn public confession of biblical faith.

Guess my main point being that their faith obviously informed their decision making - rarely do the two things operate in isolation, or in contradiction to one another.
11.18.2005 2:53pm
mightyiguana:
I mean seriously, religious should lay it a rest with the ACLU. The fact that christian fundamentalists feel a need to emphasize american's christian heritage is beyond me. If Christians really feel that americans are becoming more godless, whose fault is that? This whole stop the ACLU, makes it seem as if it is the Government fault for the godlessness of americans. But I will say, it is the christian's fault because they did not take their call be the salt and light seriously. They have been lazy for the past 100 years and all of a sudden, they are crying that America is losing their christian heritage. Last I checked the bible, it was not the role of the american government, to make sure children pray at school or that it displays the 10 commandments. St Paul did not talk about how America is the land of Godly people who pray, he did not even care that Rome did not post the 10 commandments in its courts.
Why can't Christian acknowledge that there are atheists, muslims, jews, and other religous faiths in the America who want to be represented just as much by the government?
11.18.2005 2:53pm
Justin (mail):
As you know Benjamin Franklin was raised as an actual Puritan (literally) - so even that influence came into play

Hee, hee. Ben Franklin's puritan influence. That's a new one.

Also, Aidan, can you point out to any attack on the term "Merry Christmas" from any significantly heard (that is, if you point out athiests don't like it, I'm gonna ignore you, because athiests are 1% of the American population) portion of the US population? No? Okay, Fox News it is. Oh, and you can curse. Whoopee, that's better than presenting facts to back up wild claims.
11.18.2005 3:20pm
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
I'm well aware that Franklin was a Deist - the "influence" I mentioned relates simply to the man's upbringing. He was in no way, shape or form a Puritan in terms of his ideas.

On the Christams debate there is a lot of info out there about bans on the use of "Merry Christmas" as a seasonal greeting. Here is one example ...

"Federated Department Stores, which owns the Macy's department-store chain, has ordered its 450 stores to replace "Merry Christmas" greetings with politically correct greetings like "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings." Federated also operates Bloomingdale's, Bon-Macy's, Burdines-Macy's, Goldsmiths-Macy's, Lazarus-Macy's, and Rich's Macy's."
11.18.2005 3:33pm
Justin (mail):
Federated Department Stores, which owns the Macy's department-store chain, has ordered its 450 stores to replace "Merry Christmas" greetings with THE MORE FINANCIALLY PROFITABLE greetings like "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings." Federated also operates Bloomingdale's, Bon-Macy's, Burdines-Macy's, Goldsmiths-Macy's, Lazarus-Macy's, and Rich's Macy's."

Fixed your post. Bill O'Reilly's the only other person to make the error you made, so yea, Fox News.
11.18.2005 3:38pm
Cabbage:
Justin, re-read your last comment. You come across as a twerpy 12 year old.
11.18.2005 3:40pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

It may be worth reminding people that it was the Puritans (and, IIRC, the good folk of Plymouth Colony) who tried to outlaw the celebration of Christmas, reasoning that it should be a religious holiday and not a secular occasion.
This is technically correct but misleading. The objection was to the sort of fleshy partying associated with the holiday--not celebrating Christmas. Governor Bradford of Plymouth Colony, at one of the first Christmas Days, came upon a bunch of the non-Pilgrims who were there, having a rather worldy celebration, and told them to stop it--not because they were celebrating Christmas, but because they were celebrating it in a manner offensive to the way that the Pilgrims believed it should be celebrated.

Aultimer writes:

The founders were not Puritans, but a mix of Congregationalists, Quakers and deists (what you'd call "liberals"), with a smattering of Catholics and Church of England types. Few that would be called Evangelicals or mainstream Protestants by today's standards.
Aidan Maconachy has already corrected Aultimer on the matter of the religious affiliations of the Framers.

Aultimer is also incorrect to argue that they would not be called "Evangelicals or mainstream Protestants by today's standards." The Delaware Constitutional Convention of 1776 required all members to swear an oath, "I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine Inspiration." The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 required "That no person, who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments... shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State." The Massachusetts Constitution of 1780 not only allowed but required the legislature to pass mandatory church attendance laws. There are many similar examples.

Yeah, they weren't quite like modern evangelicals. They weren't so liberal about religion as modern evangelicals.

There is so much that is false about the religious beliefs of the Framers that the ACLU spreads about. I'm not surprised that Aultimer has so much wrong on this matter.
11.18.2005 3:48pm
Michael B (mail):
"To be clear, my prediction as to the sequence of events was based upon my experience with the commentors on this blog, not on any overall belief regarding the 'Right' and the 'Left.'"

To be equally clear my own prediction was based precisely on the same. Wasn't pretending to be clinical, nor that 'left' and 'right' represent anything other than highly generalized terms. If used without pretense generalizations serve their purpose and can be effective as such.
11.18.2005 3:51pm
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
Yes I agree it probably is a financial move to appeal to a broader base of customers. Fair enough - I have no problem with that. The point of the example being that it happens, and a lot of people construe such actions as "an attack".

In this commercial instance the ruling doesn't really impinge on anyones "rights". But if you take an example of a school with a majority Christian student/staff ratio that has traditionally staged Christmas pageants that have been banned in deference to PC pressure - you could argue from a rights perspective also.

I'm actually not a hard core member of the crusading faction. I really dislike that narrow minded brand of religious fanaticism (in any faith). It's more of a broad based issue with me. For example if a school was majority Muslim or Hindu and there was an effort to ban traditional celebrations, I would support their right to honor their tradition.
11.18.2005 3:54pm
TJ (mail):
Clayton, what about Virginia? Did they have a religious test, or a provision prohibiting them?
11.18.2005 3:55pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Aidan Maconachy:

Your example of Federated Department Stores strikes me as altogether wanting (as Justin rather inelegantly observed).

Insofar as Christmas remains an essentially religious observance (which the board of Federated may not entirely agree with), churches and their congregations are free to observe it with any words they want. This includes employees of department stores, at least when not representing their employer.

Mind you, I find many of the notions promoted as “politically correct” silly, and few of them rise to offensive according my tastes. But I’m free to offend others in my free time. I even use singular masculine personal pronouns in the generic context. What could be more offensive!

If you don’t subscribe to political correctness, however defined, then don’t follow the lemmings. I don’t see any need to blame the ACLU for this phenomenon anymore than I fault the Constitution as amended.
11.18.2005 4:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton, what about Virginia? Did they have a religious test, or a provision prohibiting them?
Not to my knowledge. They did have, until just before the U.S. Constitution, an establishment of religion--the Anglican Church. There was an interesting three-sided fight about this, with some Anglicans (unsurprisingly) seeing nothing wrong with continuing to tax the people to fund the Anglican Church. Another faction arguing that people should have the right to define which denomination would receive their taxes (as was the case in some European countries until quite recently). The third group (including many Baptists, Presbyterians, and a number of other Protestant denominations) argued that the state government shouldn't be doing any of this.

Oddly enough (by modern standards), it was largely the deist/freethinkers who argued for a state establishment of religion (of which Jefferson was among the more notable exceptions). Virginia, because it had an established church that was identified with England, seems to have been a bit ahead of other states in the decision to disestablish.
11.18.2005 4:30pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Mightyiguana writes:

Why can't Christian acknowledge that there are atheists, muslims, jews, and other religous faiths in the America who want to be represented just as much by the government?
Oddly enough, most of the fight about this isn't Christians vs. members of other faiths, but Christians, Muslims, and many Conservative and Orthodox Jews against the atheists.

If you want to see fanaticism at work, look at these lawsuits. Threatening to sue the County of Los Angeles because the county seal has a mission (and therefore a cross) on it? This is a matter of history. Where I used to live, in Rohnert Park, California, the city seal, adopted back in 1962, depicts, among other things, a church and a synagogue. This was an attempt at the time at diversity--but the fanatics threatened suit if the church wasn't removed.

To get the Ten Commandments removed from a city park in Michigan, the atheists had someone testify under oath that it caused her "physical pain" to see them in the park--and a federal judge, and the appellate judges--didn't say, "Someone needs to remind the plaintiff that she's under oath."

At one point the ACLU argued that a menorah is not a religious symbol--but anything related to a creche is. These are the sort of actions that persuade me that the ACLU is less interested in its ahistorical "separation of church and state" and more interested in being the Anti-Christian Litigation Unit.

I really don't want an unlimited democracy in America. There are strong reasons for a Constitutionally-limited republic. But the ACLU is making the risks of unlimited democracy look more and more attractive to me, because the alternative is the ACLU's dishonest, insane, ahistorical verison of the Constitution--and it is one that federal judges accept without even the slightest questioning.
11.18.2005 4:41pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
"But the point of the equation, to those who make it, is that Bush and Hitler both authorized the torture and murder of innocent people, launched wars of aggression, and imprisoned people indefinitely without filing charges."


There is another blow for civility, liberals can stop whining about conservatives trashing the ACLU when they stop writing this kind of garbage.
11.18.2005 5:02pm
Justin (mail):
and a lot of people construe such actions as "an attack".

A lot of people construe Saddam Hussein as the mastermind behind 9/11 as well. This has no germane bearing on whether or not this actually is or is not an attack. That Macy's has made the entirely correct observation that more people will feel included in "Happy Holidays" than feel excluded with "Merry Christmas" in a country that's Christian population is about 95% of the nation is proof that "a lot" is perhaps an overstatement, unless, once again, you believe in Bill O'Reilly's singular crusade more than you believe in silly things like "facts" or the "free market".
11.18.2005 5:08pm
Justin (mail):
I'm actually not a hard core member of the crusading faction. I really dislike that narrow minded brand of religious fanaticism (in any faith). It's more of a broad based issue with me. For example if a school was majority Muslim or Hindu and there was an effort to ban traditional celebrations, I would support their right to honor their tradition.

It's so easy to find courage in the face of hypotheticals.

I would point out that the Seperation clause is not a cause that excites me to any sort of significant degree. The concept, however, that 95% of this country is "oppressed" because they must constrain themselves to the Constitution and because they are occasionally reminded that they are not 100% of this country seems to me absurd on its face.
11.18.2005 5:12pm
Aultimer:
Clayon &Aidan -

Framers (not equal sign) Founders.

John Adams = Unitarian (Congregationalist)
Thomas Paine = Deist (noted for criticism of the bible)
Thomas Jefferson = Deist
Franklin = more or less, deist
Sam Adams = Congregationalist
John Hancock = Congregationalist
Washington = Deist (also Episcopalian)
4 of the 7 PA Declaration signers (remember how the southern protestants fought to exclude slavery?) = Quaker

Which leading lights did you mean?



There is so much that is false about the religious beliefs of the Framers that the ACLU spreads about. I'm not surprised that Aultimer has so much wrong on this matter.


Which part of the above did the ACLU slip into my drinking water? Or did you and Aidan just fail to read carefully?
11.18.2005 5:16pm
Justin (mail):
Robert, Clinton was often compared to Stalin because he supposedly murdered 49 people, and yet apparently it is Bush hatred that has started the resort to the exaggerated comparatives. Kerry was compared to Stalin because he, ummm, served in Vietnam. When these types of attacks and tripe stop becoming the standard modus operandi of the right, then maybe the right can start pretending that it is only retalitory behavior.

On the other hand, I suppose if Bush *did* kill 49 people, comparisons to Hitler would still be massively out of line, because 49 is no comparison to 6,000,000, or so your logic would go. And since Hitler (and Saddam) has become the goalpost as to which corrupt, overarching behavior seems to be judged these days, that would still leave Bush in the company of Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln (but below Reagan).
11.18.2005 5:17pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Aidan Maconachy:

In this commercial instance the ruling doesn't really impinge on anyones "rights". But if you take an example of a school with a majority Christian student/staff ratio that has traditionally staged Christmas pageants that have been banned in deference to PC pressure - you could argue from a rights perspective also.

Having commented on the department-store example, I should in all fairness commend this school-pageant context. It’s more apt.

Obvioiusly Christmas observances range from the highly religious to the obscenely commercial.

I’m not troubled by a group such as the ACLU questioning the appropriateness of certain school pageants, even if I find these pageants altogether innocuous. Obviously, some parents find them offensive.

The question remains whether the nature of the activity was religious and the degree to which the government, acting through a school, sponsored, promoted, or compelled the religious expression. That strikes me as an appropriate line of Constitutional inquiry.

If such a display is offensive to the Constitution, it’s not that hard to cure the defect. When I was kid, I attended Roman Catholic mass in a public high-school auditorium for a few years. That wasn’t a problem. The facility in question was rented out to all kinds of organizations for all kinds of purposes. Were there some (sensible) restrictions? Sure, but religious content wasn’t a problem (and the insubstantial amount of alcohol involved in the rite was overlooked for whatever reason).

If the majority of parents at a school want a Christ-centered Christmas pageant, work with the school administrators to stage one in a permissible way. Given the political popularity of Christendom, most elected school boards will want to make sure such means exists—even if the parents need to have a couple of bake sales in order to pay for the privilege.

If the bake sales don't produce sufficient income, I suspect that a local church would be happy to provide space for free or kick in a few bucks to cover the school-auditorium fees.

Why can’t Constitutional protections exist in harmony with majority religious views? Why is this the ACLU’s fault?
11.18.2005 5:23pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Framers (not equal sign) Founders.

John Adams = Unitarian (Congregationalist)
Thomas Paine = Deist (noted for criticism of the bible)
Thomas Jefferson = Deist
Franklin = more or less, deist
Sam Adams = Congregationalist
John Hancock = Congregationalist
Washington = Deist (also Episcopalian)
4 of the 7 PA Declaration signers (remember how the southern protestants fought to exclude slavery?) = Quaker
The Congregationalist Church of that time was not yet the Unitarian Church--not even close. This is a largely 19th century change. For that matter, the Unitarian Church largely became what it is after merger with the Universalist Church.

Washington as "Deist" is a popular belief in ACLU circles, but it seems rather difficult to establish. I've looked carefully through Washington's writings on the subject, and he says surprisingly little that clearly establishes his position. What he says and writes as a public official fits into the mainstream religious beliefs of America at the time.

Quakers weren't really all that far from what now calls itself evangelical Christianity.
11.18.2005 5:25pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
Justin writes:

I would point out that the Seperation clause is not a cause that excites me to any sort of significant degree.
How can it? It doesn't exist, except in the special version of the Bill of Rights that you have to drink ACLU Kool-Aid to see.
11.18.2005 5:27pm
Thief (mail) (www):
I may be the only non-lawyer here, and this is most decidly a non-legal analysis, but...

When the heck did the right to live free of "offense" to your belief system become a constitutional right?

If a cross, or a mission, or the Ten Commandments, or the words "Merry Christmas" offend you that badly, get used to it. I see things the government and private businesses do which offend me all the time. Do I sue? No. My advice would be to follow Cohen v. California, "avert your gaze," and just ignore it. Being respectful of other people's beliefs is a nice thing to do, but that is a point of courtesy, not a constitutional right.

/If anyone's looking for a Sunday Song lyrics, how about "Get Over It" by The Eagles?
11.18.2005 5:27pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Why can’t Constitutional protections exist in harmony with majority religious views? Why is this the ACLU’s fault?
Because the ACLU's "Constitutional protections" aren't in the Constitution. The establishment clause--which simply meant that Congress could not give any legal status to a particular denomination that was not generally available to all other denominations--has been twisted by the ACLU into "separation of church and state." I have a detailed discussion of what they have done, here.

The establishment clause has a pretty clear meaning at the time. Here's an example from the clumsily written Article 19 of the New Jersey Constitution of 1776:
XIX. That there shall be no establishment of any one religious sect in this Province, in preference to another; and that no Protestant inhabitant of this Colony shall be denied the enjoyment of any civil right, merely on account of his religious principles; but that all persons, professing a belief in the faith of any Protestant sect. who shall demean themselves peaceably under the government, as hereby established, shall be capable of being elected into any office of profit or trust, or being a member of either branch of the Legislature, and shall fully and freely enjoy every privilege and immunity, enjoyed by others their fellow subjects.
No establishment of religion--but the legislature was free to pass laws requiring you to profess "the faith of any Protestant sect" to hold public office. The establishment clause in the First Amendment didn't mean "neutrality between religion and irreligion."
11.18.2005 5:35pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

Your beef should be with the Courts (which you sincerely have a beef with) and not the ACLU. The ACLU simply represented a side.
11.18.2005 5:38pm
Aultimer:
I have to disagree with your characterization of our ancestors. I'd suggest reading McCullough's Adams biography and period Quaker diaries to anyone who wants to form their own opinion based on something other than the opinions of two guys who go to very different churches on Sunday.
11.18.2005 5:42pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Your beef should be with the Courts (which you sincerely have a beef with) and not the ACLU. The ACLU simply represented a side.
If you misrepresent the past, it provides an excuse for the courts to do the wrong thing.
11.18.2005 5:48pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I have to disagree with your characterization of our ancestors. I'd suggest reading McCullough's Adams biography
I've read it. Shall I quote from Adams' letters describing attending Catholic services in Philadelphia? I don't think even the most doctrine Southern Baptists would make such statements today about Catholicism.
and period Quaker diaries to anyone who wants to form their own opinion based on something other than the opinions of two guys who go to very different churches on Sunday.
Give some examples of what you are talking about? Pennsylvania, because of the Quaker influence, was certainly more liberal than many states. They required officeholders to believe in one God and a future state of rewards and punishments. But they were still quite clearly believers in the same things as modern evangelicals. Even on the subject of pacifism, there is some reason to think Franklin's claim that they were pacifists as long as someone else did the fighting and spending they didn't have a problem with it.
11.18.2005 5:52pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
The analogy of ACLU to KKK is certainly wrong. The better analogy is of the ACLU to the Mafia. "Do what we tell you, or $80,000 will disappear from your school budget."
11.18.2005 5:54pm
David Berke:
One can always count on Clayton to entertain, if not necessarily inform.

How exactly does this 1776 provision "clearly define" what the establishment of religion is? It states that (1) No establishment, (2) No loss of enjoyments of any civil rights, but, in direct contravention to point #2, states that only Protestants can serve in office. This is "clear" evidence? A provision which contradicts itself in a tortured attempt to accomplish the very thing it allegedly forbids?

I'm also not sure your reading is correct. It merely says that "all protestants" who are peaceably part of the state can be elected to public office. It does not appear to require that they be such. Given the provision that states that no Protestant may be denied his civil rights, the best reading is that it either means (1) Only protestants are guaranteed any of those rights, or (2) Protestants have those civil rights, along with everyone else.
11.18.2005 6:37pm
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer:

Because the ACLU's "Constitutional protections" aren't in the Constitution.

Gotcha. Your point is that court’s modern conception of the Establishment Clause is wrong. That’s a very different, and obviously more fundamental, argument than where I thought we started this debate.

I would note that this debate preceded the godless, KKK-loving, communist ACLU. In fact, the poor sods at the ACLU were so asleep at the switch that they didn’t even bring the Everson v. Ewing BoE case. At least they did realize that something was up in that case, and managed to file an amicus brief.

Honestly, I see this more from Per Son’s perspective. The courts were (and are) perfectly capable of dismissing the ACLU’s advocacy. If you’re going to condemn only one of the conspirators, you really ought to start with one who makes the final determination.
11.18.2005 6:40pm
Per Son:
Clayton:

I am surprised that you believe the ACLU can simply walk into court and get the judge to do their bidding.
11.18.2005 6:43pm
Dustin R. Ridgeway (mail):

The analogy of ACLU to KKK is certainly wrong. The better analogy is of the ACLU to the Mafia. "Do what we tell you, or $80,000 will disappear from your school budget."


Yeah. Considering all the contract killings, cigarette truck heists, gambling rings, and bribing of public officials the ACLU has known to be involved in, the ACLU being analogous to the Mafia is quite apt.

Even when you are no longer a contributor, you still find a way to bring the quality of the site down.
11.18.2005 8:04pm
frankcross (mail):
I'm a little intrigued by the comparison of 18th century Quakers and modern evangelicals. All I really know about the Quakers of that era was that they were pacifist and pro Native American rights. I checked the Friends Society website, and it said that the 18th century Quakers were associated with "reduced evangelical activity." What exactly made those Quakers like today's evangelicals?
11.18.2005 9:59pm
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Even when you are no longer a contributor, you still find a way to bring the quality of the site down.

Gee, a personal insult. I think that's covered in the rules below. I suggest an apology is in order, Dustin.

Yours,
Wince
11.18.2005 11:01pm
Aultimer:

frankcross:
What exactly made those Quakers like today's evangelicals?

Clayton won't answer that because he's too busy blaming the ACLU for decisions that liberal judges haven't made and trying to paint me as a liberal because he was wrong about the founders being "Congregationalists, Quakers and deists".

Similarities - early Quakers "evangelized" (by trying to spread George Fox's religious concepts). Quakers have a strong focus on a personal relationship with G*d

Differences - Quakers believe in continuing revelation; have no creed; have no major focus on sin, salvation or accepting JC; believe that there is that of G*d in every person; although there was and is abundant diversity in Quaker thought an practice, so YMMV

You be the judge.
11.18.2005 11:57pm
Aultimer:

frankcross:
What exactly made those Quakers like today's evangelicals?

Clayton won't answer that because he's too busy blaming the ACLU for decisions that liberal judges haven't made and trying to paint me as a liberal because he was wrong about the founders being "Congregationalists, Quakers and deists".

Similarities - early Quakers "evangelized" (by trying to spread George Fox's religious concepts). Quakers have a strong focus on a personal relationship with G*d

Differences - Quakers believe in continuing revelation; have no creed; have no major focus on sin, salvation or accepting JC; believe that there is that of G*d in every person; although there was and is abundant diversity in Quaker thought an practice, so YMMV

You be the judge.
11.18.2005 11:58pm
Aultimer:

frankcross:
What exactly made those Quakers like today's evangelicals?

Clayton won't answer that because he's too busy blaming the ACLU for decisions that liberal judges haven't made and trying to paint me as a liberal because he was wrong about the founders being "Congregationalists, Quakers and deists".

Similarities - early Quakers "evangelized" (by trying to spread George Fox's religious concepts). Quakers have a strong focus on a personal relationship with G*d

Differences - Quakers believe in continuing revelation; have no creed; have no major focus on sin, salvation or accepting JC; believe that there is that of G*d in every person; although there was and is abundant diversity in Quaker thought an practice, so YMMV

You be the judge.
11.18.2005 11:58pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

One can always count on Clayton to entertain, if not necessarily inform.

How exactly does this 1776 provision "clearly define" what the establishment of religion is? It states that (1) No establishment, (2) No loss of enjoyments of any civil rights, but, in direct contravention to point #2, states that only Protestants can serve in office. This is "clear" evidence? A provision which contradicts itself in a tortured attempt to accomplish the very thing it allegedly forbids?
Except it doesn't contradict it at all. It only contradicts the ACLU's definition of what "establishment" means. Pretty clearly, they had no problem prohibiting "establishment" (giving a particular religious entity some legal status that available to all others) but still guaranteeing only Protestants the right to serve in public office.

I'm also not sure your reading is correct. It merely says that "all protestants" who are peaceably part of the state can be elected to public office. It does not appear to require that they be such. Given the provision that states that no Protestant may be denied his civil rights, the best reading is that it either means (1) Only protestants are guaranteed any of those rights, or (2) Protestants have those civil rights, along with everyone else.
It means that no Protestant can be denied those rights--which clearly means that non-Protestants don't have any such guarantee. Go see the South Carolina Constitution of 1778--it clearly limits officeholding to Protestants. The North Carolina Constitution of 1776 prohibits anyone from holding office "who shall deny the being of God or the truth of the Protestant religion, or the divine authority either of the Old or New Testaments, or who shall hold religious principles incompatible with the freedom and safety of the State".

It is unfortunate that law schools don't require you to know some history.
11.19.2005 12:12am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Honestly, I see this more from Per Son’s perspective. The courts were (and are) perfectly capable of dismissing the ACLU’s advocacy. If you’re going to condemn only one of the conspirators, you really ought to start with one who makes the final determination.
What's the diference between the ACLU and the federal bench? Not much.
11.19.2005 12:14am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton:

I am surprised that you believe the ACLU can simply walk into court and get the judge to do their bidding.
Maybe I think that because the most absurd claims--claims that are clearly factually incorrect--get bought by the Supreme Court when the ACLU presents them. Lawrence v. Texas (2003), for example, contains a number of clearly false historical claims--and the Court's decision just grabbed hold, and started sucking.
11.19.2005 12:16am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Yeah. Considering all the contract killings, cigarette truck heists, gambling rings, and bribing of public officials the ACLU has known to be involved in, the ACLU being analogous to the Mafia is quite apt.
That wasn't the analogy I drew--it was that the ACLU takes on a little school district, and threatens them with a lawsuit that will destroy their budget if they don't immediately do the ACLU's bidding. In that sense, it is like any Mafia protection racket. "You know, really bad things could happen to your business if you don't hire some security people to look out for you."
11.19.2005 12:19am
Wince and Nod (mail) (www):
Aultimer,

Clayton was not wrong about the founders being "Congregationalists, Quakers and deists". Just because you've made some arguments doesn't mean you've won the argument. I don't find your arguments as persuasive as his. Convincing yourself does not count.

And the bitter snarkiness in that last post decreases the weight of your argument.

Yours,
Wince
11.19.2005 12:21am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Clayton won't answer that because he's too busy blaming the ACLU for decisions that liberal judges haven't made and trying to paint me as a liberal because he was wrong about the founders being "Congregationalists, Quakers and deists".

Similarities - early Quakers "evangelized" (by trying to spread George Fox's religious concepts). Quakers have a strong focus on a personal relationship with G*d

Differences - Quakers believe in continuing revelation; have no creed; have no major focus on sin, salvation or accepting JC; believe that there is that of G*d in every person; although there was and is abundant diversity in Quaker thought an practice, so YMMV

You be the judge.
I've found a description of Quaker beliefs from the Ohio Yearly Meeting (current beliefs--things were a bit different in 1789) here that I completely agree with--and I suspect that most evangelical Christians would also agree with it:


Jesus Christ lives and acts now within you and me. He is our hope of glory. Jesus, the living Word of God, will talk to us. He is the One who can speak to our condition. We experience Jesus Christ directly, drinking from the Living water and being refreshed as that spiritual stream flows over us. We can address God in prayer. When He speaks to us, we must listen and then obey.

Jesus’ outward work allowed us salvation from sin. His inner work transforms us. By God’s almighty power and grace we can be lifted out of sin into righteousness. God can break into our lives at any time, unexpectedly, to change what we do and even who we are.

We can pursue our own salvation by hanging our greed, lusts, anger, and other sins on the cross. By accepting the cross into our lives, we yield to and follow Christ.

Conversion, convincement, and transformation happen in different ways to different people. Some people experience an immediate, dramatic event; some people know steady spiritual growth; some people have both.

Truth does exist, and we can know it both individually and corporately. We know Truth through the immediate presence of Christ within us. The Scriptures, which were given by God, cannot contradict Truth. They contribute to our understanding of Truth, and they stand as a second authority to check our understanding of God’s Word within us.


Aultimer may be attending a Quaker meeting that is out on the liberal end--but he needs to recognize that Quaker beliefs today aren't the same, exactly, as Quaker beliefs then, and there's a lot of diversity within Quakers.
11.19.2005 12:26am
Appellate Junkie (mail):
frankcross:

I checked the Friends Society website, and it said that the 18th century Quakers were associated with "reduced evangelical activity." What exactly made those Quakers like today's evangelicals?

Having studied religion with some fervor, I too wonder how one could make more than a superficial and probably misleading connection between 18th century “Quakers” and 21st century evangelicals (by comparison a more amorphous lot at that, not that Quakers were ever monolithic).

I’m reticent regarding an ecclesiastical discussion here, both out of respect for the blog’s topic and appreciation for the passions of the various commentators. In some ways it does illustrate a troubling point about originalism, so I’ll make a couple of passing observations.

I suppose that the anti-clerical core of the first century of the movement we now think of as Quakers has a superficial resemblance to modern evangelism. Likewise, the proselytizing that was of course necessary in the earlier Quaker movement might also have some passing similarity with an aspect common to most modern American evangelicals.

Remarkably, by the latter half of the 18th century (from which this thread seems to have sprung), the century-old movement was quite insular. Both in degree and substance, this really begins to cast doubt on evangelical association. While I find any connection to modern religious traditions too superficial and strained to withstand much scrutiny, the Quaker movement at the time probably bears more resemblance to modern conservative (small “c”) Jewish movements than to modern evangelicals.

I’ll leave that thought there to pick up on the difficulty of circumscribing our constitutional tradition based on fragmentary expressions of thought roughly contemporaneous to the founding of this nation. I agree with one of our more irascible commentators that New Jersey’s 1776 Constitution featured articles that required public allegiance to certain forms Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism. But I would also note that 18th century Quakers, despite being a Protestant religious observance, would generally have rejected any oath taking in this regard. I’d also observe, as the poster in question is surely aware, that the present federal constitution didn’t exist in 1776; this charter followed a failed/rejected experiment with a different form of national charter.

In any event, our contemporary understanding of the principle embodied in the Establishment Clause can no longer support the notion that public rights are reserved to Protestants as opposed to Roman Catholics (or the Great Jewish Menace, an issue that gained currency somewhat later in the nation’s history).

Obviously, a vigorous debate continues in this county as to the extent that the Establishment Clause constrains our governments. Some historical understanding is useful in that debate, but I would suggest that the perspective of the ACLU is just as welcome. Neither perspective is conclusive.

Today, the question is the degree to which Christianity reins supreme by public fiat (with the “Judeo” prefix added in an awkward—perhaps even gratuitous—manner) or centuries' old religious prejudice.

I’m not offended in the least by non-Christians seeking shelter under the Establishment Clause, even if the degree is subject to debate. Obviously, others reject an evolution of meaning/scope in this debate in the same way that biological evolution is challenged as illegitimate.

Regardless, the problem is hardly the ACLU. The question goes much deeper than that. I simply prefer that we don’t shadow box. Let’s lay our card honestly on the table and go from there.
11.19.2005 12:38am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I’ll leave that thought there to pick up on the difficulty of circumscribing our constitutional tradition based on fragmentary expressions of thought roughly contemporaneous to the founding of this nation. I agree with one of our more irascible commentators that New Jersey’s 1776 Constitution featured articles that required public allegiance to certain forms Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism. But I would also note that 18th century Quakers, despite being a Protestant religious observance, would generally have rejected any oath taking in this regard.
That's one of the reasons that a lot of oaths of office in state constitutions and in the federal government use expressions such as "I swear (or affirm}" to allow Quakers to hold public office.


I’d also observe, as the poster in question is surely aware, that the present federal constitution didn’t exist in 1776; this charter followed a failed/rejected experiment with a different form of national charter.
The U.S. Constitution did not reject the existing state constitutions--only the relationship of them to the federal government. If you want to understand what the Framers meant by "establishment of religion," you need to look at what that meant at the time. The New Jersey Constitution provides evidence that it didn't mean what the ACLU wants it to mean.


In any event, our contemporary understanding of the principle embodied in the Establishment Clause can no longer support the notion that public rights are reserved to Protestants as opposed to Roman Catholics (or the Great Jewish Menace, an issue that gained currency somewhat later in the nation’s history).
My point was that the Framers did not share the ACLU's view of the establishment clause. I rather doubt that you would find many Americans who would support a requirement that you be a member of a particular religion to hold public office. You might find some level of support for prohibiting atheists from holding office (as the Pennsylvania Constitution still does), but pretty clearly, all it does is make liars out of politicians. (Or is that unavoidable, regardless?) It is clear, however, that the ACLU's notion doesn't fit the evidence.


Obviously, a vigorous debate continues in this county as to the extent that the Establishment Clause constrains our governments. Some historical understanding is useful in that debate, but I would suggest that the perspective of the ACLU is just as welcome. Neither perspective is conclusive.
If the historical understanding matters (and the Court's continued willingness to call upon history--and occasionally falsify history--suggests that it is), then the ACLU's claim that it requires neutrality between religion and irreligion is historically inaccurate.

If historical evidence is just as valid as the ACLU's mere opinion, then there's no point in bothering with the history. If so, liberals need to stop pretending that they are following the Constitution. We'll call a fresh convention, and put the majority in charge.

I won't be happy about it, but it is better, on balance, than the current system where the liberals who sit on the bench sometimes yell, "Majority rules!" sometimes yell, "The Constitution prohibits it" and sometimes yell, "We don't have any other basis to strike the majority down, so we'll just insult the majority by calling them irrational." The current system is intellectually indefensible.
11.19.2005 12:55am
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer:

The U.S. Constitution did not reject the existing state constitutions--only the relationship of them to the federal government.

I didn’t suggest that the adoption of the 1787 U.S. Constitution rejected existing state constitutions out of hand. Setting aside for the moment the Great Incorporation Debate, I don’t understand how you can reasonably assert that some of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution did not introduce constraints on state constitutions that did not exist in 1776.

all it does is make liars out of politicians. (Or is that unavoidable, regardless?)

My goodness. We’ve finally stumbled onto a point of absolute agreement.

I wonder if that axiom held true in the 18th century?

If historical evidence is just as valid as the ACLU's mere opinion, then there's no point in bothering with the history.

And this is the point on which we will never see to eye to eye.

In this context, historical interpretation is as subjective as any other form of constitutional analysis. You are as certain as to the historical “fact” of what was in people’s minds two centuries ago as you are certain as to what those “facts” imply in the 21st century.

I’m a great fan of academic historical pursuits, in no small part because they continue to be a great font of debate. You and I will never agree that history is conclusive, because I see history as a continuously open to new insight. You and I will never agree as to history’s lesson for modern times because modernity’s relevance and aspect is something upon which we don’t agree.

Speak in absolutes to your heart’s content. At the end of the day, persuasion is not a function of your certitude, any more that it is of mine.

The current system is intellectually indefensible.

I’ll gladly continue the debate in a (perhaps long overdue) constitutional convention. In the meantime, we seem to be stuck with the present document and the unending debate it inspires.
11.19.2005 1:23am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I didn’t suggest that the adoption of the 1787 U.S. Constitution rejected existing state constitutions out of hand. Setting aside for the moment the Great Incorporation Debate, I don’t understand how you can reasonably assert that some of the amendments to the U.S. Constitution did not introduce constraints on state constitutions that did not exist in 1776.
Are you suggesting that the First Amendment's ratification affected the legal power of the states to establish churches? We know that it did not. This was only the result of selective incorporation, more than a century later.

If you want to understand what "establishment" meant when the states ratified it, look at the evidence for what the people of the time understood it to mean. It did not mean that the government was required to be neutral between religion and irreligion--even at the federal level. Presidents Jeferson and Madison both allowed government buildings to be used for church services, and both attended church services in the Hall of Representatives. Those services continued until after the Civil War.

Congress passed laws reserving one section of each township in Ohio for the purpose of funding whatever church the majority wished--and there are legislative actions without apparent upset as late as 1827.

In this context, historical interpretation is as subjective as any other form of constitutional analysis. You are as certain as to the historical “fact” of what was in people’s minds two centuries ago as you are certain as to what those “facts” imply in the 21st century.
What is uncertain about this? Do you doubt that the state governments promoted Christianity--specifically Protestant Christianity--as opposed to unbelief? Anyone who has any uncertainty on this point probably would be unsure if the sky on a nice summer's day is blue, or green. Or perhaps you don't like what the history clearly shows.


I’m a great fan of academic historical pursuits, in no small part because they continue to be a great font of debate. You and I will never agree that history is conclusive, because I see history as a continuously open to new insight. You and I will never agree as to history’s lesson for modern times because modernity’s relevance and aspect is something upon which we don’t agree.
If you are saying that there's no need to follow original intent, then what, exactly, does the Constitution mean? Whatever a majority of judges on the Supreme Court decide it means? If a majority decides that the First Amendment means that the government may prohibit news programs that promote disapproval of Bush's foreign policy, does that make it true?



Speak in absolutes to your heart’s content. At the end of the day, persuasion is not a function of your certitude, any more that it is of mine.
There are absolutes out there. A relativist, by definition, must deny that there are any absolutes at all. Hence the entire discussion in 1984 about whether 2+2 can mean whatever the Party wants it to mean.
11.19.2005 1:36am
Appellate Junkie (mail):
Clayton E. Cramer:

If you are saying that there's no need to follow original intent, then what, exactly, does the Constitution mean?

Yup, that’s the essential point of our disagreement.

The problem isn’t the mystical power of the ACLU to seduce jurists. That’s a sideshow—one I would characterize as fanciful.

The problem is what was the intent? What is the application of that intent to our present circumstance?

There are absolutes out there. A relativist, by definition, must deny that there are any absolutes at all. Hence the entire discussion in 1984 about whether 2+2 can mean whatever the Party wants it to mean.

Call me a historical (or moral) relativist, if you think it’s an indictment that necessarily dismisses my perspective. It doesn’t bother me one wit because I find these labels quite unpersuasive.

A realist, however, is prepared to acknowledge the frail and capricious nature of human perspective. One need honestly confront these limitations before embracing eternal “truth.”

As for Orwell, I commend you to read his many essays on the intersection of language and politics. They can’t be the last word on the subject, but they are more telling than your trite invocation allows.

If the Bill of Rights is at its core nothing more than philosophical mischief or the often abused prejudices held by people who have long since perished, by all means trot out your alternative. I’m happy to entertain your charter. If it's well conceived we will surely have the same debates for centuries to come.

Absent that, we’re left with a fundamental disagreement that has little to do with the ACLU’s advocacy. What remains is probably a debate on epistemology.
11.19.2005 2:27am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Check out my most recent post where I reference some of Cramer's post from his site on these state constitutions.

Many of the provisions of those state constitutions clearly violate natural rights of conscience. The federalism of the original founding clearly complicates many of these issues.

Contrast all of those state religious tests with Art. VI of the federal Constitution which applies universally to all religions, no matter how unorthodox.

States originally were left in charge of securing the natural rights against state violations and Jefferson himself thought that states would be more effective at protecting such rights than the federal government. But that all changed after the civil war.

I think we need to explore the possibility that much of what's done under the Establishment Clause, under the doctrine of Separation of Church and State may be better done under the Equal Protection Clause, under the doctrine that, as with race, the religion of citizens must be treated equally under the law.

And indeed, atheists and irreligious citizen's do indeed have "equal rights" of conscience, which, as a constitutional standard, may very well indeed require government to be neutral between religion and irreligion.
11.19.2005 10:23am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Anyone interesting in finding out the details of John Adams's religion should read in context his entire correspondence with Jefferson. Adams is someone who is very easy to quote out of context because he talks up Christianity and Christian piety quite a bit. However, what Adams means by "Christianity" (his personal views) was not only radically unorthodox for his time, but also unorthodox for today.

One surprising thing I've found in researching our founders' beliefs is that there is little evidence that our key Whig founders -- Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and some others -- disagreed with one another on the basics (as opposed to the finer details).

See these two posts of mine detailing Adams's personal beliefs. He was a not only a capital U Unitarian Congregationalist, but his religion also qualifies as unitarian universalism.

When Adams “finds” the Truth in other religions that parallel teachings found in Christianity, he goes so far as to call them, for instance, Eastern Pagan religions, “Christian.” Here is Adams in a December 25, 1813 letter to Jefferson finding "Christianity" in Hinduism:


Where is to be found Theology more orthodox or Phylosophy more profound than in the Introduction to the Shast[r]a [a Hindu Treatise]? “God is one, creator of all, Universal Sphere, without beginning, without End. God Governs all the Creation by a General Providence, resulting from his eternal designs — Search not the Essence and the nature of the Eternal, who is one; Your research will be vain and presumptuous. It is enough that, day by day, and night by night, You adore his Power, his Wisdom and Goodness, in his Works.”


In another letter, Adams doubts that we have the right version of the Ten Commandments and freely admits to Jefferson that there are "errors and amendments" found in the Bible (thus agrees with Jefferson's attempt to edit out all of those passages from scripture which had been "corrupted").
11.19.2005 10:49am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

Washington as "Deist" is a popular belief in ACLU circles, but it seems rather difficult to establish. I've looked carefully through Washington's writings on the subject, and he says surprisingly little that clearly establishes his position. What he says and writes as a public official fits into the mainstream religious beliefs of America at the time.


I've looked carefully into Washington's writings as well and you are correct that he says surprisingly little. But the question that is begged is, why? Back then, one couldn't get into legal or social trouble by affirming the tenets of orthodox Christianity, but one likely would get into trouble by denying or criticizing them. Doing so ruined Thomas Paine publicly (he died a pauper). And even Jefferson's harshest things he had to say about orthodox Christianity were taken from his private letters. The tamer stuff that Jefferson wrote and said publicly nearly ruined him as well.

Washington's and Madison's silence on religious matters was conspicuous and points in the direction of their religious unorthodoxy, in my humble opinion.


What [Washington] says and writes as a public official fits into the mainstream religious beliefs of America at the time.


I think it would be more accurate to say that Washington never wrote or said anything that contradicted or insulted the beliefs of orthodox Christians. But if you look at Washington's public supplications to God, he like the other key framers [Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin] only invokes a generic Almighty God, never referring to Him in Scriptural or Trinitarian terms. Washington, like the others, believed in a warm intervening Providence. Beyond that there is no credible evidence that he or any of the others were "Christians" in anything other than a nominal or unorthodox sense.
11.19.2005 11:11am
Per Son:
Clayton:

What does Lawrence v. Texas have to do with the ACLU?

Paul M. Smith argued the cause for the Petitioner. He is an attorney at a major corporate law firm.

The firm which litigated the case was Lambda Legal. Maybe the ACLU submitted an amicus brief. Did you? You could have attempted to file a brief.

So, somehow the ACLU has grown to include Lambda Legal and Jenner &Block. That is rich.
11.19.2005 11:14am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

I've read it. Shall I quote from Adams' letters describing attending Catholic services in Philadelphia? I don't think even the most doctrine Southern Baptists would make such statements today about Catholicism.


Adams was almost an anti-Catholic bigot. BUT...Adams was almost as much of a critic of Calvinistic Trinitarian Christianity as he was of Roman Catholicism.

Reading Adams's and Jefferson's correspondence adds even more irony to their election. The orthodox Christian clergy vehemently opposed Jefferson for some of the things he wrote and said on religion. But they didn't realize that Adams's beliefs were every bit as unorthodox as Jefferson's!
11.19.2005 1:42pm
Public_Defender:
The ACLU took my baby away, they took my baby, away from me.

When did Volokh posters become this kooky?

Nice, but you should have said:
The ACLU took my baby away, they took my baby, away from me. Then they turned it over to NAMBLA in a Satanist ceremony (the only "religion" the ACLU recognizes) in a former church that the gay Communist majority on city council had taken with eminent domain powers and resold to terrorists who had been freed from Gitmo because of an abusive habeas writ.
11.21.2005 11:30am
Aidan Maconachy (mail):
Back to Eugene's original post. Yes calling the UCLA the "KKK" is ridiculous. Way over the top. There are aspects of UCLA "policing" that I personally dislike, and I do think they take it too far at times - but then so do the other side.

In an ideal world I think religion - all religion - should be kept out of the public square. We have rights and freedoms in our society that override prejudices derived from religious beliefs. The only way we can create a truly equal society in which people of all faiths feel welcome, is to ensure that no one religion becomes overly dominant.

However the examples I cited above - complaints about the cross emblem of Las Cruces and toy pigs (which drew complaints from Muslim employees of Dudley Councul in the UK) - this type of thing just gets really silly.

On a more serious note, when it comes to issues like gay rights and abortion, religion should butt out. These are matters that relate to individual rights and freedoms, and an absolutist opposition based on scripture is simply the worst kind of social discrimination that flies in the face of the liberties we have worked hard to create in modern N.America.
11.22.2005 3:38pm