Posts Tagged ‘American Civil Liberties Union’

This is a long post, and a developing situation at that. I first became aware of Judge Roy Moore, the “Ten Commandments Judge,” a decade ago when I was in college. He refused to comply with a court order to remove a massive monument of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse, and because of that, he was stripped of his judgeship.

For this, he was made both into a martyr for the cause and something of a minor celebrity among the far-right who are über-religious.

Then, a little under a decade later, the (adjective removed) people of Alabama decided to elect him yet again to be the Supreme Court Chief Justice (of Alabama). Seems to me that a man who refuses to follow the ruling of the courts has no business being a judge.

And, he’s at it again. Specifically, the Federal court in Alabama ruled as every single other court (except the 6th Circuit) has for the past few years: the state ban on issuing marriage licenses to two people of the same gender is unconstitutional. Moore is all about nullification.

This post is made from several WND posts:

It is also made from several posts on other sites:

Really, that first news snippet lays out the entire initiation:

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has released a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intends to continue to recognize the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and urging the governor to do so.

Moore’s office released the three-page letter that was delivered to the governor this morning in response to a federal judge’s ruling Friday striking down the ban.

“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote.

The problem is that legally (by court precedent, by federal law, and, well, the results of the Civil War), federal law trumps state law. Federal courts trump state courts. Federal Constitution trumps state constitution. There’s something called the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution about this. But, Moore seems to think that only the Supreme Court can void a state law: “Moore said court precedents from throughout the state’s history make it clear that only the U.S. Supreme Court can overturn the highest court decision in the state system, so Granade’s decision, and a temporarily delayed order implementing it, was out of line.” FYI, this particular District Judge was an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

Pretty much everyone disagrees with him. For example: “Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama School of Law, said Moore’s words carry little legal weight, as federal constitutional law trumps that of states. “There is no credible legal argument that an order from a federal judge with jurisdiction over a matter isn’t binding on a state government,” he said.””

As a side bar, Moore founded a group called the Foundation for Moral Law. It’s now run by his wife. Officially, the group has not responded to Moore’s letter to the governor, though it has said this:

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

As another (completely gratuitous) side bar, Judge Moore’s son isn’t as clean-cut as his papa, as JMG pointed out on January 29. His Twitter feed was quickly made private, but that was after people grabbed screenshots of him writing such illuminating things as: “Happiest of days to you my man @Tcopeland4 may much poon come your way #birthdaybash2014” or “I would love to meet the folks who think they go harder than these niggas #thecrew @Tcopeland4 @woods457 @JLHrastamon @Kyul_Landers” And lots of pictures of him with lots of alcohol.

Back to the story … In response to Moore’s letter urging the Governor to ignore the federal court ruling, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has filed a formal judicial ethics complaint against Judge Moore:

over his public statements urging the governor and Alabama judges to defy federal law and enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama, which could recommend that Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That court removed Moore from the office of chief justice 12 years ago after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

“Moore is once again wrapping himself in the Bible and thumbing his nose at the federal courts and federal law,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “As a private citizen, Moore is entitled to his views. But as the chief justice of Alabama, he has a responsibility to recognize the supremacy of federal law and to conform his conduct to the canons of judicial ethics.”

JMG points out, “It was the SPLC’s 2003 complaint that first got Moore booted off the Alabama Supreme Court. He was reelected in 2012.”

At the same time as this, probate judges in Alabama were hoping for what the county clerks of Florida did, as well, but ultimately didn’t get: That maybe the Federal judge’s ruling would only apply to those particular plaintiffs and/or that particular county. No such luck, as the second JMG post I linked to points out: “Federal Judge Granade today clarified her ruling from last Friday, stipulating that it does indeed apply to all Alabama counties. […] Granade’s clarification cites federal Judge Robert Hinkle’s similar ruling in Florida.”

And, “The Alabama Probate Judges Association said it would follow her judgement.”

Moore, however, is not backing down. In response: “Alabama’s chief justice is telling probate judges that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a federal judge’s decision overturning the state’s gay marriage ban. Roy Moore sent a letter Tuesday to probate judges, saying the judge’s decision isn’t binding on them.”

And, in response to that, the SPLC filed another ethics charge against Moore.

Besides interviews to such fair and balanced outlets as World Net Daily, he’s been on radio programs such as with Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” (Perkins is president of the Family Research Council), and with Sandy Rios on the American Family Association’s show. These may not help him if he is brought up, again, on ethics charges. This quote deals with his appearance with Perkins:

His latest appearance may turn out to be a gift to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which earlier this week filed a complaint against the Chief Justice after he first pledged to ignore pro-equality rulings. SPLC pointed out that Moore’s declaration constitutes numerous ethics violations, such as commenting on a pending case and encouraging lawlessness.

In his conversation with Perkins, Moore also lamented that the country no longer arrests and imprisons gays and lesbians, approvingly citing the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, which legitimized anti-LGBT harassment by police. The FRC filed an antigay brief in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the Bowers ruling.

But, it’s not just the SPLC that is getting into this. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has started a petition that demands the Judicial Inquiry Commission take action against Judge Moore.

I’m getting this post out today because tomorrow, Monday February 9, the stay on Judge Granade’s order is lifted, and probate judges must begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or be in contempt of that court order.


After 22 years and multiple court rulings, the Mt. Soledad cross would come down but isn’t going anywhere soon. It was erected practically a century ago – a cross (a Christian religious symbol) on public land – and has come to represent fallen soldiers in wars. The lawsuit for its removal was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Jewish War Veterans and other local residents. It was ruled unconstitutional in 2011 by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case and sent it back down the ladder to Judge Burns, and now U.S. District Judge Larry Burns has now ruled it again unconstitutional, and the cross must be removed in 90 days but he stayed his order pending all appeals.

The ABC News story is, “Judge Orders Removal of San Diego War Cross,” and The Friendly Atheist titled it, “Judge Rules That Mt. Soledad Cross Must Come Down Within 90 Days.” Hemant over there notes that it is the longest-running Establishment Clause case in American history. As Hemant puts it:

The cross will eventually come down. There’s just no legal way to justify a giant Christian symbol on federal property. But Christian groups argue this is all about what the veterans want. Well, the veterans fought for our freedom, and that includes preventing an establishment of religion by the government.

I concur. World Net Daily has the story as, “Judge Orders Removal of Mt. Soledad Cross,” but it only has a small snippet of a U-T San Diego story back on December 13. WND’s story has 6 ratings (4.67/5 stars) but a fairly large 113 comments. Perhaps my favorite of the ones I skimmed is not the top-rated (“BobTheConcerned” – 16 up 0 down – “The ACLU needs to be abolished. Its a Godless institution.”), but rather the response by “gertd” which has 4 up votes and 0 down: “Well, so is the Constitution. The ACLU is fulfilling what the constitution demands. I fail to see how someone can claim to be in favor of first amendment rights yet *not* support the ACLU.” What amazes me is the zero down votes.

Anyway, many of the other comments are what one would expect from WND, and none are particularly outrageous enough to comment on, including “rbruce62″‘s statement that the ACLU stands for the “Anti-Christian Litigators Union” [sic].

Edited to Add (June 5, 2014): In an update posted by Bob Unruh, he sticks it to the anti-theist: “Offended by the Cross? Too Bad.” Apparently, the group that wants to keep the cross thinks that the Supreme Court’s Town of Greece v. Galloway decision (the one that says city councils can open meetings with prayer) means that the cross should stay. I’m not entirely sure what legal contortions they went through to claim that, but we’ll see what the courts think.

Catholics, by doctrine, are against abortion. That’s kinda a “duh” statement to anyone who knows much of anything about Catholicism. The grey area is how much against it when the consequence of not inducing an abortion is that the mother will die?

It’s one of those moral quandaries that we all (hopefully) hope to never have to make, but statistics show that most people would rather do nothing and let someone die than do something to save someone else but lead to someone else’s death. The classic example is that a train is coming, and it will kill 5 people on one track. But, you could switch tracks, and it would only kill 1 person. Do you switch? Most would say “no.”

This moral question apparently has a Doctrinal answer from the Catholic Church: Women are baby factories, abortion is NOT ALLOWED UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. No exceptions.

With that lovely preamble, we are brought to December 3’s short snippet from NBC News, “ACLU Sues Catholic Hospital.” At issue is that a woman, 18 weeks pregnant, was taken to the nearest ER in Michigan with complications. She was sent home with some drugs. She came back later and ended up suffering a very dangers, painful, and prolonged miscarriage. The standard medical practice – as witnesses will testify at trial – is to induce labor to result in a miscarriage (“abortion”) in such circumstances to save the life of the mother. The doctors apparently knew that (or should have if they were competent), but did not tell the mother because they were a Catholic hospital and driven by Catholic Bishops’ directives.

So, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is suing with the woman as the plaintiff. (By the way, I got a lot of the information above from memory from reading another article on this story, NOT from the WND snippet.)

The story, posted nearly two weeks ago now, has 6 ratings with an average of only 2.5/5 stars. It does have 39 comments, pretty much all of them talking about the downfall of society. ‘Cause, you know … Jesus.

For example, “General Quarters” wrote, with 10 up-votes and 1 down-vote: “Go ahead and sue. “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29. If the Catholic hospital loses, they might close their doors. If that is the case……We the People will lose since the Catholic hospitals treat anyone regardless of race, creed, religion or ability to pay. Close all the Catholic hospitals and watch the choas that ensues. That rigid ideology of death to the unborn will become the death of this nation. I will watch for the outcome of this trial. God’s Church v Satan once again. I have noticed that whenever the ACLU takes on a lawsuit they win when they are unopposed. There will be plenty of lawyers out there to take this case against the ACLU. Abortion is nothing more than pre-meditated murder! Keep in mind, this is a press report prior to the trial. So the verdict is already in as far as they are concerned. The original source is the vastly liberal NBC News. So I can almost guarantee the news is slanted against the Catholic Hospital. The press no longer informs, they form the public mind.”

Edited to Add (December 21, 2013): The New York Times points out that the Catholic hospitals, because of the Bishops’ rule(s) on abortion, violates medical ethics and existing laws.

World Net Daily posted the headline, “ACLU: Jesus Is Not an Historical Figure.” The story itself is unimportant, the jist being that the a school district that had a portrait of Jesus was sued by the ACLU to take it down, they did, ACLU went to settle, in the process they found out the school simply had the portrait placed somewhere else, they sued again, the school on the advice of lawyers finally removed it for realz, and here you have the aftermath.

The reason for the title of this particular blog post can really be summarized by that commenter “Arch” whom I seem to agree with more and more:

The headline here is misleading, which violates the Commandment against bearing false witness. The ACLU did not say that Jesus was not a “historical figure,” but rather that He is much more a religious figure and His nature as a historical figure cannot be separated from His religious implications. Therefore, they argued that it violates the separation of church and state. It’d be the same as if the school wanted to put up a portrait of Buddha or Mohammed. Both are historical figures, but neither can be separated from the religions they founded and therefore it can give the appearance of endorsing one religion over another.

That’s what they argued, and this snippet and the headline do not make that clear. I’m sure I’ll get down-voted for pointing that out, but, there ya go.

Arch got 8 up-votes and 7 down-votes for his trouble, and the four-day-old story on WND now has 8 ratings (4.38/5.0) and 445 comments. The top-rated comment is by “Julian McGrath” with 22 up-votes and 0 down-votes:

It’s amazing how worked up people get over a carpenter who was put to death 2,000 years ago. And what did this carpenter say that was so awful? Well he summed up all scripture into 2 basic commandments. Love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. The ACLU stated that “students and visitors to the school would continue to suffer permanent, irreparable harm and injury”. The message to love God and love other people like yourself will do all that? Wow.

“Wow” is right. Apparently Julian simply doesn’t get it that a portrait of Jesus is a religious symbol. The concept of “God” is religious. The government can’t endorse one religion over another. What part of that is hard to understand?

I like “fredw”‘s response, which got 3 up-votes and 9 down-votes:

Well, several thousand years of religious violence *between* groups of Christians suggests that people can get very worked up indeed.

If it’s no big deal, then why the need to go to court to keep the picture there?