Patterico's Pontifications

9/20/2006

Democrats Can Meet Here . . . But No Worshipping!

Filed under: Civil Liberties,Court Decisions,General — Patterico @ 6:25 pm



If a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is a God, is that religious worship?

What if a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is no God? Is that religious worship? (It’s a rhetorical question; stay with me here.)

Let’s assume you answered the first question “yes” and the second “no.”

Now assume that a public library opens a public meeting room “to encourage [its use] for educational, cultural and community related meetings, programs and activities.” May it state that the room “shall not be used for religious services”?

Now assume that a church seeks to use the room for activities including worship, and is banned — not because the church’s services are noisy or distracting, but simply because the church is engaged in religious worship, in violation of the rule against using the room for religious services.

Can the library do that?

In the Ninth Circuit, it can. The decision is here. (Via Howard.)

Here is the problem as I see it: I cannot imagine on what ground the library could exclude a group of atheists seeking to reaffirm their atheism. The library allows members of the Sierra Club to meet, talk about, and reaffirm their belief in principles of environmentalism. It allows Democrats to meet, talk about, and reaffirm their belief in . . . whatever the heck those folks believe.

Presumably the library would have to allow a group of atheists to meet, talk about, and reaffirm their belief in the idea that God does not exist. After all, worshipping is worshipping; reaffirming your atheism is not.

But apparently members of a church cannot meet, talk about, and reaffirm their belief in the existence of God — because that is “worship,” and it is prohibited.

This sounds like viewpoint discrimination to me. How about you?

60 Responses to “Democrats Can Meet Here . . . But No Worshipping!”

  1. What if a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is no God? Is that religious worship? (It’s a rhetorical question; stay with me here.)

    Is it a belief?

    actus (10527e)

  2. It sounds like establishment of atheism to me. Hopefully it gets tossed on appeal.

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  3. What if a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is no God? Is that religious worship? (It’s a rhetorical question; stay with me here.)

    actus:

    Is it a belief?

    The bold type should clarify things.

    Polymer (6946e1)

  4. It actually is a huge question in some people’s minds, including my own, and the answer may have significant implications on “separation of church and state” issues.
    If one thinks of religion as a belief system that has to do about “ultimate realities”, morality, etc., then atheism (of various forms?) is a religious belief, which seems to be the opinion of posts 1-3.
    It becomes difficult to expunge religion from the law if the belief “there is no God” counts as religion. You can get references to God out of government, but it is much harder to get “whether or not God” out of government. Then the idea of not preferring one religion over another includes the idea of excluding reference to God cannot be preferred over including a reference to God. (Hence an end to fights over “The Pledge of Allegiance” and “In God We Trust”, etc.)
    I do not know the legal precedent, but I know there is the standing legal opinion at the SCOTUS level that atheism does not count as a religion. (At least I think I know that, but I’m not a lawyer). So it really could be a new precedent if it gets there.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  5. The whole question (the court’s not yours, Patterico) is based on a false premise, Justice Hugo Black’s baseless [obiter] dictum about the “wall of separation between church and state”. I’ll look for the cite if another commenter doesn’t beat me to it.

    nk (b57bfb)

  6. It looks to this non-lawyer that Lamb’s Chapel and Good News Club rulings apply, except we are “counting angels on the head of a pin” about what kind of public format exactly are we talking about.
    What if the East Contra Costa Democratic Club in “letting people learn about Democratic candidates and issues” said, “Joe Smith is Catholic and Pro-Life, that is why we are not supporting him”?
    The issue of “religious services” making too much noise seems like a reasonable practical issue, so they need to pray quietly.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  7. Patterico,

    Silly you. It’s to counter the “excesses of the zealous,” and the 9th already knows that all religious people are zealously excessive at all times, especially in their exxecisvely zealous meetings, which are the only type they ever hold.

    More seriously, are the actions of the Left, in their naked assertions, getting increasingly strident and desperate these days or what? They are not handling their loss of power well at all.

    ras (a646fc)

  8. Thank you nk.

    I read a few pages of the decision and I felt like Alice in Wonderland reading how the writers of the Constitution were so eager to keep “impenetrable” the wall …, so much so that Jefferson attended religious services in the Capitol building and while the 1st amendment forbade the Federal Government to establish a Church, State churches existed for many years until the 14th Amendment (correct?).

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  9. Atheism is not a religious belief. On what grounds would you prevent them from talking about their lack of belief? The lack of A is not the opposite of A: it is just the absence of it. That’s the difference.

    Of course there are a lot of religious democrats too you know.

    Psyberian (e7fdee)

  10. Of course there are a lot of religious democrats too you know.

    Yes, Psy, there are many religious democrats. They are just confused about how to take a stand on their religious principles.

    Hint: It’s called a backbone.

    Rovin (b348f4)

  11. Psyberian,

    You make a statement without an explanation, in disagreement with other posters. Can you offer an argument?

    I didn’t say there were not religious Democrats, I said that Pro-Life Catholics (or other religious Pro-Life) are not typically candidates backed by the Dems.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  12. Psyberian,

    My apology, you did make an argument.

    It appears you define religion as a system of belief concerning a deity. Hence, one who doesn’t believe in a deity is “not religious”. Indeed, that is the argument as it is often put forth, as I believe. But if that is the case, some things that we call “religion” are questionable, such as Buddhism, I believe.

    The definition I used is more “functional”, the function of a religious belief is to provide a general perspective on “how things are and why do you do what you do”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  13. MD, my argument is made and stands on its own. It was primarily directed at Patterico’s post rather than the comments.

    Psyberian (e7fdee)

  14. Psyberian,

    I posted my apology and comments at #13 while you were posting #14.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  15. MD, that’s not the generally accepted definition of religion. Religion involves a deity or deities.

    By the way for clarity, I’m not saying that I would agree that a bunch of atheists should go around loudly demeaning religion and proselytizing their lack of beliefs in a library. But that isn’t a common occurrence anyway.

    Psyberian (e7fdee)

  16. MD in Philly,

    Actually, Massachusetts, the last state to have an established church, disestablished in 1833. The Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. But don’t go there. The question is not establishmentarianism /disestablishmentarianism/antidisestablishmentarianism. That question is settled. This country is definitely disestablishmentarian. The issue is the kindling point of establishment. Our host’s is one example of taking it to ridiculous extremes. Almost as ridiculous as the fire department refusing to answer an alarm for a church on fire.

    nk (47858f)

  17. The law regards ‘Atheism’ as a religion. Otherwise entire swaths of decisions would be dismissed for lack of standing, right?

    Prayer-in-school was fought by Atheists.
    The Pledge is being fought by Atheists.

    This isn’t fought by people following Shiva, Kali, Thor or Gaia – because the sole change they might be able to effect is changing the ‘God’ to ‘god’. Or perhaps an acknowledgment of polytheism.

    They wouldn’t have standing to _eliminate_ the concept, which is the goal.

    Al (2e2489)

  18. Atheism is not a religious belief. On what grounds would you prevent them from talking about their lack of belief? The lack of A is not the opposite of A: it is just the absence of it. That’s the difference.

    Don’t get it.

    I set up a pretty clear equation, Psy: people who believe x and people who believe not x. One group is allowed by the library to celebrate their beliefs and the other is not. Is this not viewpoint discrimination?

    Patterico (de0616)

  19. When will the brainwashed (or brain dead) democrats quit hollering seperation of church and state in the first amendment. It isn’t there and everything the leftie judges (sic) do is a violation of the constitution. The government can’t tell me what religion to believe in and they can’t stop me from practicing my religion. That is the first amendment, pure and simple. Everything else has been added by some idiot they call a judge. I guess this started about the same time that people started disrespecting the judicial system and now see it as just another corrupt group of lawyers. Aren’t they now the most dis-trusted group in the country, or are they slightly ahead of a congress member?

    Scrapiron (9f37aa)

  20. ah, bad faith. my favorite part:

    Although religious worship
    is an important institution in any community, we disagree that anything remotely community-related must therefore be granted access to the Antioch Library meeting room.

    anyone else notice the false parallel? the weaselling?

    i’ll give you a hint: by stating that religious worship is “an important institution in any community,” he’s kinda saying it’s not remote, and the second half is a non sequiturs. as i taught my 101 kids, when you see this particular strategy, stop immediately and read closely, and you will find bad faith somewhere in the neigborhood.

    sickening.

    jdubious (64e7a4)

  21. The bold type should clarify things.

    Rather conclusorily. I’m more asking whether atheists really have ‘a belief.’I don’t think atheists have much faith, or worship. But I do suppose that discrimination against them is religious based discrimination.

    But I suppose the difference could be that atheists do have a belief. But secularists don’t. So something for an atheist purpose is religious, but not something for a secular purpose.

    However, this doesn’t quite jibe with what I read on the american atheist website. They discuss freedom from religion, being non-believers, etc… rather than having a belief.

    actus (10527e)

  22. Psyberian: of course Atheism is a religious belief. Under what reasoning is “we don’t believe in [x]” not a statement about [x]?

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  23. I’m pretty vigorously pro church-state separation. I believe the current state of the law allows too much state-church integration.

    But this ruling strikes me as misguided both on existing law and as a matter of sound judicial policy.

    Sidebar: I recall a few years ago a Tennessee (I think) case where a principal told two students to stop talking about the Bible at recess, because he thought that was church-state separation. Of course, that’s wrong – separation just means government stays out of it, and doesn’t teach the children The One True Faith. Separation also means not telling the kiddies they can’t discuss God.

    Atheism just isn’t some subset of religion; it’s the absence of religion or affirmative disbelief in all the 3,200 deities out there, rather than all but one. Thus, I think Pat’s point is well-taken; this could lead to a lack of appropriate separation by discriminating against religious viewpoints.

    But suppose that wasn’t so. It’s still a misguided ruling, I think. There are slippery slope considerations – could the library be effectively turned into a church? – but I think this governmental differentiation of religious and irreligious speech is unhelpful.

    I note that I differ with the majority primarily on a fine point of law. I think the limitations here serve no valid governmental purpose; if the library had classes of limited *allowed* uses which did not include religious ones, that would be a much stronger majority case. In this case the allowed uses are very broad, which I believe defeats the limited access claim.

    But the concurring opinion is quite annoying and almost venomously anti-religious. It’s a pouty whinge at religious folk. I’m sure in some circles that will be pinned on the majority, and that’s not fair to the majority, who at least made viable legal arguments.

    In the end, it’s an unwise ruling which will have some negative consequences for us vigorous separationists. This sort of ruling has a lot of ways to come back and bite. I’m with Pat both on his hypo, and on his thoughts that it’s an unwise ruling.

    –JRM

    JRM (5e00de)

  24. actus, there is a difference between agnostics and atheists, and I am discussing atheists here.

    Patterico (de0616)

  25. But the concurring opinion is quite annoying and almost venomously anti-religious. It’s a pouty whinge at religious folk. I’m sure in some circles that will be pinned on the majority, and that’s not fair to the majority, who at least made viable legal arguments.

    It’s plenty fair to the majority, because the judge (Lawrence Karlton of the Pledge case fame) is half of the majority.

    Patterico (de0616)

  26. JDubious: I think that the point being made is that the library may reasonably determine for itself which community-related activities it must provide support for, and that it is not compelled to support all community related activities. And that it is therefore within its rights to reject this particular community-related activity, no matter how important it is.

    I don’t have a problem with that proposition as long as they aren’t making the decision to reject or not to reject using impermissible criteria, and whether or not something is religious strikes me as being an impermissible criterion.

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  27. Actus, it is my proposition that “God does not exist” and “God exists” are both religious observations.

    aphrael (3bacf3)

  28. Actus:

    But I suppose the difference could be that atheists do have a belief. But secularists don’t. So something for an atheist purpose is religious, but not something for a secular purpose.

    However, this doesn’t quite jibe with what I read on the american atheist website. They discuss freedom from religion, being non-believers, etc… rather than having a belief.

    Are you saying that the opposite of believing in God is not Atheism, but instead indifference to the idea of believing or not believing in God?

    Polymer (6946e1)

  29. Mr Frey posted:

    “Don’t get it. I set up a pretty clear equation, Psy: people who believe x and people who believe not x. One group is allowed by the library to celebrate their beliefs and the other is not. Is this not viewpoint discrimination?”

    Perhaps, but is “viewpoint discrimination” prohibited by the US Constitution? As I understand the US Constitution, and I hope you’ll educate me if I’m wrong, there is a prohibition against state establishment of a religion, not state establishmnet of a belief or “viewpoint”. So to use your example, whether or not some people believe x or don’t believe x isn’t a an issue unless x is a religious belief, in which case the state is prohibited from supporting it. Is that right?

    aphrael posted:

    “…of course Atheism is a religious belief. Under what reasoning is “we don’t believe in [x]” not a statement about [x]?”

    Calling atheism a religion seems a lot like calling baldness a hair color.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  30. The key thing which often trips up folks—generally the secular ones—regarding ‘religion’ is their confusion about defining religion explicitly by theology.

    It is possible to worship WITHOUT worshipping God, or a god.

    Not all religions are theologically based.

    On to the issue at hand…it certainly is discrimination to prohibit religious organizations from meeting on the premises of a library.

    Desert Rat (ee9fe2)

  31. Perhaps, but is “viewpoint discrimination” prohibited by the US Constitution? As I understand the US Constitution, and I hope you’ll educate me if I’m wrong, there is a prohibition against state establishment of a religion, not state establishmnet of a belief or “viewpoint”. So to use your example, whether or not some people believe x or don’t believe x isn’t a an issue unless x is a religious belief, in which case the state is prohibited from supporting it. Is that right?

    Happy to educate you. The First Amendment prohibits the government from engaging in viewpoint discrimination. If the library makes facilities open to group x but not group y based on the groups’ viewpoint, that is unconstitutional.

    Patterico (de0616)

  32. Patterico,

    What if one group advocates something horrid and illegal, such as MANBLA… can’t the library prohibit them, but allow a meeting of a group advocating a tax cut or social program?

    Is their no discretion allowed at all?

    Christoph (9824e6)

  33. Thanks, Mr Frey, but the library isn’t refusing a group based upon its beliefs; it’s refusing to allow the use of its facilities for religious purposes. A group composed entirely of Christians (or atheists) can still meet there, so it’s not very clear to me where this “viewpoint discrimination” you speak of even comes in.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  34. A group composed entirely of Christians (or atheists) can still meet there, so it’s not very clear to me where this “viewpoint discrimination” you speak of even comes in.

    I’m not sure you read the entire post or all the comments. But, although there is repetition from the post, let me just put it to you this way: if “religious services” are prohibited, then:

    1) Can a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is a God?

    2) Can a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is no God?

    #1 sounds like “religious services” to me, while #2 doesn’t. Am I wrong about that?

    Patterico (de0616)

  35. Is their no discretion allowed at all?

    Not on viewpoint.

    The Nazis at Skokie were advocating some nasty stuff. But as a general rule, the government can’t discriminate based solely on viewpoint.

    Patterico (de0616)

  36. “#1 sounds like “religious services” to me, while #2 doesn’t. Am I wrong about that?”

    As I understand it, I think that you are right.

    AFAIK, the answer to #1 above is no. A group of Christians can meet to do something nonreligious such as play chess, but not to practice religion. Affirming a belief in a god is a religious practice, but playing chess is not.

    #2, affirming a lack of belief in a god, is not a religious practice, as lack of religion is not religion. So as I understand it, #2 would be allowable.

    Is that right, Mr. Frey?

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  37. Rick:

    That is indeed how it seems to me — except that the only difference between #1 and #2 is one’s viewpoint as to the existence of God. Let me repeat:

    1) Can a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is a God?

    2) Can a group of people gather together in a room to affirm and celebrate their common belief that there is no God?

    That italicized word “no” in #2 is the only difference.

    So you have conceded that the library would permit #1 and not #2. And the only difference is whether the group members are celebrating their belief in the non-existence of God rather than the existence of God.

    Viewpoint discrimination doesn’t get any clearer, huh, Rick?

    Patterico (de0616)

  38. Your point is well taken, Mr Frey, except the issue here isn’t just any ole “viewpoint”; it’s religion. And though you may disagree, the establishment clause as interpreted by SCOTUS, at least as I understand it, prohibits the government from supporting religion.

    Rick (c7fbdd)

  39. I think George Bush should be impeached for talking about God.

    Wait, every president has done that.

    I think that Americans who have money that says, “In God We Trust” should burn the money or give it back because, well, it’s not right that the government support religion.

    Finally, when your country completely eliminates God, watch it become evil beyond belief.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  40. And though you may disagree, the establishment clause as interpreted by SCOTUS, at least as I understand it, prohibits the government from supporting religion.

    Well, it prevents the government from establishing an official religion, anyway.

    But it also prevents viewpoint discrimination.

    The majority analyzes the case from a viewpioint discrimination perspective. This is a First Amendment free speech case, my friend.

    Tell you what. Read the opinion and dissent before commenting again. You’ll be better informed on the relevant issues.

    Patterico (de0616)

  41. This will really throw you seperationist for a loop. Here in my city our community center routinely rents out hall space for different new and burgeoning churches.For routine weekly services. On Sunday. They also rent the City-Owned space out to anyone, Dems, GOP, liberals and conservatives. My G-d, how does my city continue to thrive in such a wanton disgard for the Constitution?
    I think it is this common sense, inclusive use/availablity to ‘all comers’ policy that our Constitution requires.
    Now, we had a Neo-Nazi presence here in this city for a while and to my knowledge they never asked to rent city space.So I cannot fully attest to the real world effectiveness of a truly constitutional committment of this municipality.
    I comment here to validate Frey’s position on viewpoint discrimination. You can’t do it, in any form, and reconcile with the Constitution. I think the most important and dfifficult thing this country has to do however, is reconcile free speech rights against the desire of the seditious, pornographic and criminal element of the society to inculcate itself into the mainstream where it does not belong.

    paul from fl (464e99)

  42. …people who believe x and people who believe not x.

    Then are biology books going to have to be removed from the library because most of them refer to evolution? Evolution is “not x” to a lot of people.

    My point is, the law only concerns those who believe x. If the law was “We shall not discuss spontaneous generation on public property,” then it would not be illegal to discuss other means of “generation.” The law pertains to a religion. Try as some of you may to redefine the word “religion” for the purposes of your argument, but atheism is not, by simple definition, a religion.

    So are libraries going to have to provide alters and podiums now?

    All of this is academic since a library is supposed to be a quiet place anyway. Further, people discuss their religion in libraries every day all over the country. It may not be a full fledge religious service with halleluiahs and amens, but that’s what church is for isn’t it.

    Psyberian (e7fdee)

  43. To nk-
    Thank you for your correction/clarification. I in no way want to reclaim the ability to have a state established church, but I do want intellectual integrity when it is argued that the Founders supported the kind of rigid seperation of religion from government that Justice Black claimed.

    Random House Webster’s College Dictionary 1991:
    religion 1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usu. involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code for the conduct of human affairs. 2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons and sects… 3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices…

    Notice, the central idea is this: “1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe”.

    A common view is that “religious” thought involves an appeal to deity and is a special type of thought that can be “added to” (or not) a “common” “areligious” point of view–that is we all believe a, b, and c, but some also believe r=religion=deity. Those critical of that would say such a view is the result of an inherent secular bias that is not appreciated. The opposing view emphasizes the first phrase of definition #1- whatever beliefs about the fundamental nature of the universe one holds is essentially a religion. Some think there is a God who “created the heavens and the earth” and as His creation it is appropruate that we live in some relation to Him. Others believe there is no such creator and “we’re on our own”. The challenge of a pluralistic society is to find how to exist together in cooperation.

    One train of thought in the history of Western Civilization is that scientific progress did not happen in spite of religious thought but because of it. Those who believed in a creator god who was sovereign had the conviction that the universe was orderly, hence systematic observation and experimentation would be meaningful. Those in a more pantheistic or animistic society who felt that much of life was governed by the whims of the gods had little motivation to try to figure out why the gods did what they did.
    If one thinks of religion as a monotheistic belief system such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, you are largely leaving out Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shintoism, for a few. These are systems of belief about the nature of things and inform their adherents how to live, but the worship of a deity is not the issue (as I understand it).
    All of that said, I don’t think I would want to attend a worship service in a public library during open hours because I would be afraid it would be disruptive because of the noise factor. But that is not what the arguments in the case were.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  44. actus, there is a difference between agnostics and atheists, and I am discussing atheists here.

    Thats why I went to an atheist group to figure out what it is they’re after. They talk about being free from religion. Which doesn’t sound like they’re religious. Here are some of their reasons and teachings

    I wouldn’t call those beliefs. Nor would I say its a simple as saying that Christians believe X and atheists not X.

    Actus, it is my proposition that God does not exist and God exists are both religious observations.

    To a religious person, yes. To an atheist, they’re both empirical observations.

    Are you saying that the opposite of believing in God is not Atheism, but instead indifference to the idea of believing or not believing in God?

    I think its incorrect, and somewhat vague, to say that atheism is ‘the opposite of believing in god.’

    [You’re trying to make complicated what is simple. Don’t use the word atheist then. Go back to the post. Group 1 cannot celebrate its belief in God, but Group 2 can celebrate its belief in no God. If you want to engage in sophistry and pretend Group 2 is not a group of atheists, then we’ll just define Group 2 as a group of people gathering to celebrate its beilef in no God. Viewpoint discrimination, pure and simple. — P]

    actus (10527e)

  45. Frankly, my objections are stronger than Patterico’s. I see “viewpoint discrimination” analysis as a slippery slope because it implicitly legitimizes government inquiry into the content of speech beyond the very narrow restrictions of obscenity and the test of overwhelming governmental interest (clear and present danger for a priori restriction). The “establishment” analysis, as well, fell short in my opinion. In the spectrum between zero tolerance for religious expression in a government building and consecrating the meeting room as hallowed ground, it is much closer to the first point than to the second. (Hmm, “consecrated ground”. Does Arlington National Cemetery violate the Establishment Clause?)

    nk (956ea1)

  46. Dang, Pat’s right about the majority being two people. It was a three-judge panel. (For whatever reason, I thought it was a larger panel.) I’m willing to avoid tarring both with the poison pen of the concurrence.

    39: Governmental support of religion doesn’t mean that religious people can’t use public facilities. If the facts of this case were that the library had open sign-ups to all comers except religious groups to get meeting room slots, that would be clearly constitutional. (OTOH, if their rule was that the meeting rooms were open to book clubs and book readings, they could stop a church service as being outside the limited purpose.)

    42: You can be a separationist and be completely for viewpoint-neutral policies (like any all-comers policy.) It’s sensible when renting places to rent to the highest bidder.

    Generally: This is a fact-based case; the law allows some restrictions depending on whether the facility in question is limited use. The court ruled that it was; I think the dissent is much stronger. I think it’s a bad idea to oversimplify to either, “Government can’t do anything that assists religion,” or “Government must allow religious action in its halls,” because both of those assertions are incorrect. Pat’s discrimination test (as he carefully phrased it) strikes me as a reasonable one; a policy which prevents one side but not the other is unfair and, in my view, unconstitutional.

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  47. Actus — they both seem like a religious viewpoint to agnostics as well as to the religious. :)

    aphrael (e7c761)

  48. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
    prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    Unless there is Federal money in play I fail to see how this is a matter of U.S. Constitutionality.

    Free exercise and enjoyment of religion without
    discrimination or preference are guaranteed. This liberty of
    conscience does not excuse acts that are licentious or inconsistent
    with the peace or safety of the State. The Legislature shall make no
    law respecting an establishment of religion.

    People are being denied access to an otherwise public use facility. As long as they are not acting in a manner tha is ‘licentious or otherwise inconsistent with the peace and safety of the State’ I fail to see how the library can exclude any group activity.

    ThomasD (21cdd1)

  49. ThomasD — it’s a matter of federal constitutionality because the courts have decided that the 14th amendment applies the 1st amendment to the states.

    A county is a creation of the state and is therefore juridically a state agency for the purposes of the 14th amendment.

    aphrael (e7c761)

  50. Aphrael,

    Thanks for the info, I disagree with that interpretation but the point is moot anyway. The California State Constitution would also seem to apply, and a reading of the relevent passage clearly indicates that the actions of the library are counter to the rights of Californians.

    ThomasD (21cdd1)

  51. I don’t know whether or not I agree with that interpretation, because I haven’t done the research into the legislative history (on which those who argued for incorporation originally based their arguments).

    It strikes me as being a plausible argument, but more than that I can’t say unless I force myself to read the record.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  52. Perhaps I should note that my opinions are entirely unlearned. Since it’s not my chosen profession I avoid the esoterica and pedantry so It’s just me and a plain reading of the core texts.

    cheers

    ThomasD (21cdd1)

  53. it is viewpoint discrimination.
    separation of church and state requires that religions be treated neutrally compared to the treatment of secular entities. it does not require that they always be suppressed in public places. i’m sure the supreme court will understand this distinction.

    assistant devil's advocate (4fd7b7)

  54. ThomasD — so are mine; aside from a single course taught by the legal studies department at my university, which I took more than ten years ago, I have zero formal legal training. But i’ve done a fair amount of reading, and I try to digest people’s arguments when I read them. :)

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  55. Any time we get into a discussion of what “religion” means, I think of Casey v. PGA Tour, and the Court stepping in to decide, once and for all, what “golf” is. It’s silly, frankly.

    But I don’t think you even have to get into that definition to answer Patterico’s question. If you imagine it as Group 1 being forbidden to meet and talk about the governmental conspiracy to bring down the WTC, and Group 2 meeting to talk about how there was no governmental conspiracy to bring down the WTC, it’s clearly viewpoint discrimination. The “religious” (great, now I’m going to wince every time I hear that word) tinge to the actual viewpoints involved is what throws people off.

    jinnmabe (cc24db)

  56. Viewpoint discrimination, pure and simple

    And rather trivial too. Will people be able to gather and affirm and celebrate their belief in the promotion of the protection of animals? Will they be able to meet to affirm and celebrate their belief in connecting as knitters?

    If everything is trivially about belief, and thus religious, then thats the way it will be. But in the real world, we solve the problem by not having everything be religious. Like atheism.

    actus (10527e)

  57. “Atheism is not a religious belief. On what grounds would you prevent them from talking about their lack of belief? The lack of A is not the opposite of A: it is just the absence of it. That’s the difference.”

    Nut. Shell.

    mmm...lemonheads (a960c9)

  58. So you agree with me about viewpoint discrimination, lemonhead?

    Btw, I saw you on Ace’s trying to pass off that canard about Gonzales calling the Geneva Conventions “quaint.” Don’t you know I addressed that here just days ago?

    Patterico (de0616)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3035 secs.