Posts Tagged ‘American Politics’

The Jurisprudence of Lies

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

I have often written about how our nation is no longer truly governed by our elected representatives, but is instead dominated by unelected, unaccountable Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Courts. By that I primarily mean the body of men and women who have received life-time appointments to the federal courts, and who use their enormous power to invent new principles of law that have either been rejected by the democratic process or never contemplated by it.

This judicial oligarchy has a long history. The fundamentally false concoction of abortion law is the perfect example — a body of alleged jurisprudence that declares that unborn children have no rights that born people are bound to respect. We saw the rash of lawlessness surrounding the redefinition of marriage, resulting in the intellectually incoherent stew of the Obergefell and Windsor decisions.

We are now seeing it in the infiltration of sexual orientation and gender ideology into the judicial mindset, resulting in a growing jurisprudence of lies. In the last two weeks, we have seen ample evidence. Both cases involve judicial re-invention of the plain, clearly-understood meaning of a federal statute — Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which in part prohibits discrimination on the basis of “sex”.

As one federal judge recently said, “In common, ordinary usage in 1964 — and now, for that matter — the word ‘sex’ means biologically male or female; it does not also refer to sexual orientation.” There really is no intellectually coherent way to understand Title VII as having anything to do with notions of “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”. In fact, every “LGBT” organization understood it that way, since they have spent, and continue to spend, a great deal of time, energy and money trying to amend the law to include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. But Congress has consistently rejected those amendments.

Now, in order to be valid and legitimate, any law has to have certain characteristics. St. Thomas Aquinas would define a law as “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated.” So a law has to make sense and be reasonable. It has to be enacted through the proper process — in the United States, that means passed by a legislature and signed by an executive. It must be clear so that ordinary people can understand it, and it cannot change constantly or be subject to shifting sands of interpretation — it has to be predictable so that people will know what is expected of them.  It has to be made public so that there are no secret meanings that people will be held accountable for. If an enactment does not have these characteristics, it is arbitrary and subject to the abuse of power and the advancement of special interests rather than the common good. It is not law at all, but merely an imposition of power.

This is where our lawless oligarchic judiciary comes in. Last week, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Ohio, ruled that Title VII isn’t just limited to discrimination on the basis of “sex”, it also bans discrimination based on “transgender and transitioning status”. Perhaps that was in the statute all along, but in invisible ink? The alleged basis for this decision was a prior Supreme Court ruling that a woman could not be penalized because she did not conform to some stereotypes of how a woman should dress and act. It’s important to note that the court was completely unimpressed by what the term “sex” was understood by everyone to mean when the law was enacted. They just blew right past that and re-defined the word to fit their own ideological agenda, turning the law into a lie.

By doing so, the court fell right into the utter incoherence of gender ideology. That bizarre body of thought rejects the male/female sexual binary, denies that biological sex has any significance to a person’s self-defined identity, holds that “gender” is an invented social construct designed to oppress sexual minorities, and maintains that a person can change their “gender identity” into anything they want. If that’s the case, then “transgender and transitioning status” clearly has nothing to do with “sex”, because it entirely rejects the normative relevance and value of sex. But by trying to shoehorn “transgender and transitioning status” into the term “sex”, the advocates — and the court they bamboozled — are trying to have it both ways by saying that “sex” is both irrelevant and a decisive factor. They want to eliminate “sex” but still benefit from it when it suits them. Talk about stacking the deck in your favor.

The second example of judicial usurpation took place earlier this week. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, based here in New York, overturned its precedents and held that Title VII’s term “sex” also includes “sexual orientation”. That’s quite an expansive word, isn’t it? Once again, the court just re-invented the word at the wave of a hand. As one of the dissenting judges said, “the majority misconceives the fundamental public meaning of the language of the Civil Rights Act… By prohibiting discrimination against people based on their sex, it did not, and does not, prohibit discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.” To say that “sex” in Title VII means anything other than “male” or “female” is just a lie.

Our Church calls us to avoid any unjust discrimination against homosexual persons. But different treatment of homosexual persons is fundamentally not the same as discrimination on the basis of “sex” or even “sexual stereotypes”. Sex discrimination involves negative treatment against a person because of who they are — male or female — or whether they meet certain notions of how a man or woman should behave. Differential treatment of homosexual persons is not like that at all — it is based on disapproval of anyone, male or female, who has sexual attractions or engages in sexual behavior that is considered immoral or otherwise unacceptable. That may indeed be invidious discrimination in some cases, but it certainly is not what Congress meant, or what anyone understood, when Title VII was enacted. To treat such different legal concepts as if they were the same is just a lie.

In 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter in which he discussed his views about the proper role of the judiciary in the American constitutional system.  In his letter, Jefferson made a famous observation:

You seem … to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions;  a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy.

Jefferson was a prophet.

Politics, Factions, and the Church

Wednesday, February 15th, 2017

At the time of the founding of our Republic, one of the great concerns was the danger that political factions would undermine the fragile unity of the new nation. This was so serious that the Founding Fathers specifically and repeatedly warned about the deleterious effects factions would have on the country. For example, George Washington, in his Farewell Address (a document that is amazingly prescient and relevant in our age) said:

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

Likewise, James Madison in the Federalist Papers (No. 10) said this:

A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.

There is no question that the spirit of faction is very widespread in our nation and that it is driving us further apart. The past election was a particularly bad season for this, and virtually everyone can tell about divisions in their families, uncomfortable or hostile conversations at dinner, being “un-friended” or seeing vitriol on Facebook, and so on. There is not just anecdotal evidence for this. A major study by the Pew Center last year documented the rise in partisanship and animosity over politics.

American politics is becoming almost tribal in nature. A person’s political affiliation is becoming a dominant aspect of their identity and it is increasingly shapes not just their views on public issues but their friendships, associations, etc. Party loyalty is becoming one of the highest values and group-think is becoming the acceptable standard. Politics is also invading more and more aspects of life. It’s becoming increasingly common at sporting or entertainment events for some athlete or singer to inject their political views into the show. Facebook is becoming more about political rants than pictures of the kids and silly cat videos. Corporations whose purpose is to sell us stuff are now seeing it as their role to tell us how to think as well. People on both the left and the right are bemoaning the fact that we are facing the politicization of everything.

This is not news, but I raise it at this time for a reason.  The President recently said that one of his major goals is to eliminate something called the “Johnson Amendment”. That’s a provision of the Internal Revenue Code that bans certain tax exempt organizations — particularly churches — from engaging in partisan politics. This has long been a goal of many Evangelical organizations and some Catholics as well. They want pastors to be able to openly endorse political candidates from the pulpit and to lend them material support through their churches.

I think this would be a disaster for the Church and for our society — and for our souls. Politics has its place, and its place is not everywhere. A healthy society has many institutions and activities whose purpose is to bring people together, not to divide them or to “kindle their unfriendly passions”. One of the most important of these places is in Church.

The purpose of Church is not to contemplate or promote temporary solutions to worldly problems. The purpose of Church is to worship God, the Creator and King of the Universe. It is a time to separate ourselves from the Kingdom of Man and immerse ourselves in the Kingdom of God, which is our true homeland. It is a time to renew our communion with Our Lord Jesus Christ and with His Mystical Body — with our fellow sinners of all political views. It is the place where we recall our solidarity with the Communion of Saints around the world, those who have preceded us and those who will follow us. We are called to lift our hearts and minds to God, to listen to His Word, and, if we are worthy, to receive His Body and Blood. In Church, nothing should distract us from trying to come closer to God in our hearts, minds and souls. Nothing.

Factions, parties, and partisanship — whatever term we use for it — have no place in the Church. They divide us in the most important place where we must stand united. St. Paul went so far as to call “party spirit” a work of the flesh, and compare it to many very wicked sins that exclude people from the Kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21). We certainly need more guidance from our Church about the principles and demands of our faith, and how we can apply that to the issues of our day.  But we cannot allow partisan politics to turn us against each other — or against the Church — and divert us from our real role in the world. In the famous Letter to Diognetus written way back in the second century, this was how the Christians were described:

… there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country… They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law… To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world…  Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.

That is indeed a lofty function, one that we cannot allow to be diluted by politics or factions.