Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2010

Wisconsin Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

Filed under: Judiciary,Religion — DRJ @ 5:34 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Wisconsin U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled unconstitutional the National Day of Prayer that was first established by Congress in 1952:

“In a 66-page opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the holiday violates the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment, which creates a separation of church and state.

“I understand that many may disagree with that conclusion and some may even view it as a criticism of prayer or those who pray,” Crabb said in her opinion. “That is unfortunate. A determination that the government may not endorse a religious message is not a determination that the message itself is harmful, unimportant or undeserving of dissemination.”

The opinion comes in a case filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of self-described “atheists” and “agnostics.”

Here is the opinion and this is the section I think best explains the Court’s reasoning:

“However, recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic. In fact, it is because the nature of prayer is so personal and can have such a powerful effect on a community that the government may not use its authority to try to influence an individual’s decision whether and when to pray.”

The Court also pointed to the “divisive” impact and exclusionary effect of the National Day of Prayer as reflected in complaints listed at pp. 57-60 of the opinion. The Court then concluded with another example and a list of religious matters that aren’t prohibited:

“The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.

It is important to clarify what this decision does not prohibit. Of course, “[n]o law prevents a [citizen] who is so inclined from praying” at any time. Wallace, 472 U.S. at 83-84 (O’Connor, J., concurring in the judgment). And religious groups remain free to “organize a privately sponsored [prayer event] if they desire the company of likeminded” citizens. Lee, 505 U.S. at 629 (Souter, J., concurring). The President too remains free to discuss his own views on prayer. Van Orden, 545 U.S. at 723 (Stevens, J., dissenting). The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute as it has in §119.”

Religion is too controversial for one judge or one opinion to decide in a way that convinces everyone, and that’s especially true if the judge has to explain what the opinion doesn’t mean as well as what it does.

– DRJ

74 Responses to “Wisconsin Judge Rules National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional”

  1. Come on

    Katnandu (32190b)

  2. Too bad they outlawed burning witches at the stake. She’s a prime candidate.

    Scrapiron (996c34)

  3. Do we have freedom of religion or freedom from religion?

    Is Congress making a law respecting the establishment of a religion when he have a national day of prayer? What religion is being established?

    Is the first amendment that hard to understand?

    MU789 (25b69d)

  4. On the one hand this seems like a colossal waste of time for everyone involved, because I would imagine the vast majority of Americans don’t know or care about National Day of Prayer, and only Michael Newdow and about five other people are truly offended by it. On the other hand, it’s not the business of Congress or anyone else in government when or whether Americans want to pray.

    Nels (a474bc)

  5. #4 Nels:

    On the other hand, it’s not the business of Congress or anyone else in government when or whether Americans want to pray.

    Of course it is. It affects interstate commerce, just like…just like, ah, just like growing your own wheat does! So there.

    Gah.

    EW1(SG) (edc268)

  6. I agree with Nels on this. I’m a taoist; I’m going to ignore a national call to prayer. I’m vaguely irritated by one because the government is exhorting me to practice a religion I don’t follow, and I think the intent behind the first amendment is that the goverrnment shouldn’t take sides between religions in that way.

    But it’s a mild irritation, sort of like I’d feel at the traffic waiting slowly to go around an accident on the freeway. It’s way less important to me than it is to people who want this sort of thing.

    So … I think the judge is right on the merits, and I couldn’t be bothered to care. :)

    aphrael (4e93b5)

  7. How is it that some of the most exquisitely ignorant people get to be Federal judges? Does ANYONE care that when the Constitution was ratified – and for MANY years after that – in order to serve in a government position in many states you had to take a religious oath? And not just any religious oath, a prospective state employee had to swear to being a Christian? Bueller? Bueller?

    Query, then, how is it that when the country was founded and the Constitution was adopted it was OK for Connecticut to require people to swear an oath to Christ with one hand on the Bible, but that now Congress can’t set a side a day for people to pray? Does this judge know these facts? I realize she likely doesn’t care about the facts, but is she even aware of them?

    There’s nothing quite so unbecoming as aggressive, intolerant, unfettered ignorance, masquerading under the flag of liberalism and diversity.

    LCP (ce485c)

  8. EW1 is obviously the champion of this thread.

    But the judge is right. I love Jesus and I don’t appreciate some of the more ridiculous freakouts like ‘In God We Trust’ or the Pledge having ‘Under God’ in it.

    I don’t think a Prayer day is constitutional. It’s none of the government’s business to help God or me out like that. I think every day is prayer day, and no one who agrees is praying because Uncle Sugar said we should.

    On the other hand, our nation is philosophically based on critical and special ideas that are related to the existence of God, and recognizing that history is great. I don’t mind the symbolism of a ‘Ten Commandments’ plaque or a “In God We Trust” marque. I realize this is inconsistent with an absolute ban on government touching on religious subjects.

    Good thing such a ban doesn’t exist outside the heads of certain activists.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  9. The practical effect of this decision is … one judge’s opinion. Congress is not obligated to repeal the statute and there’s no injunction that can be issued to keep people from praying on that day.

    May I say “mental m______tion”? Which is what militant atheists indulge in all the time anyway.

    nk (db4a41)

  10. I don’t appreciate some of the more ridiculous freakouts like ‘In God We Trust’ or the Pledge having ‘Under God’ in it.

    Um, I meant freakouts against ‘In God We Trust’.

    It’s not harming anyone to recognize our basis, even if you don’t think God is real. It’s a valid point… our nation’s principles indeed are based on trusting God, etc etc etc.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  11. Totally off topic.

    What’s with the bad performance of the site?

    Clavius (b00448)

  12. atheism is a religion, just like the rest of them, and banning “prayer” or “prayer days” to keep them happy is catering to their religion at the expense of others.

    as an agnostic, the only proper solution is to enact a “National Non-Prayer Day” where everyone will be encouraged to *not* pray, which will therefore counterbalance the “National Prayer Day” and thus return us to a state of ecumenical balance.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  13. IANAL but the separation of church and state is seemingly always clouded. As was mentioned, ‘In God We Trust’ or the Pledge having ‘Under God’ in it are perfect examples as well as even the crosses at Arlington. If there is to be consistency, wouldn’t those also have to be deemed unconstitutional as well?

    OTH, perhaps its this inconsistency and tension that evidences the first amendment in action and is necessary for the public debate over such a volatile and vital issue to thrive… otherwise we end up like that other part of the world where only the religion of peace is lawful.

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  14. aphrael said:

    But it’s a mild irritation, sort of like I’d feel at the traffic waiting slowly to go around an accident on the freeway. It’s way less important to me than it is to people who want this sort of thing.

    I certainly agree. There should be a federal law prohibiting automobile accidents.

    Thank you, I’ll be here all week. Try the veal and don’t forget to tip the wait staff.

    Sorry, aphrael, I couldn’t resist.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  15. redc1c4,

    It’s interesting how the organized atheists decided to change the definition of athiesm for legal reasons. It was really clever, and it’s not infected dictionaries and the like.

    Logically, of course, if someone has faith that there is no God, that just as provable and scientific as Christianity. But if you blur the word Athiesm to be more like agnostic, then you can claim you’re fighting Christians for the sake of… doubt, and not for the sake of your views being the new dominant enforced view.

    Just interesting. I think England is a great warning against getting too politically correct against the nice folks. Dana’s right… bad stuff can happen in that circumstance.

    And is this judge consistent with higher rulings on separation of Church and State? I think the 7th circuit is pretty “liberal” (new dumb usage) with that concept.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  16. “On the other hand, it’s not the business of Congress or anyone else in government when or whether Americans want to pray.”

    It’s not like it’s mandatory or anything. If they made it a holiday, you could make an argument for it I suppose. We’ve got LGBT Pride Month by Presidential Proclamation, National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day among a myriad of others. Some people could be found to object to any of the “national” days or months on a variety of constitutional grounds. Where does the silliness stop?

    daleyrocks (1feed5)

  17. Seriously, though, doesn’t it bother anyone else that a federal judge has to:

    First: waste her time on a stupid case such as this.

    Second: waste her time trying to justify why she wasted her time on a stupid case such as this.

    Because, at some point, we’ll have federal judges trying to parse every single religious belief and action long after the mother lode of squelching Judeo-Christian tradition is exhausted.

    Personally, I believe government should stay out of religion and religion should stay out of government.

    But, I can see a future of the meddling and melding of the two results in a Gordian knot that can’t be untangled despite the clear direction of the Constitution.

    By the way, which end of the baby do you want? Also, I’m having a sale on trite metaphors.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  18. “It’s not like it’s mandatory or anything. If they made it a holiday, you could make an argument for it I suppose. We’ve got LGBT Pride Month by Presidential Proclamation, National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day among a myriad of others. Some people could be found to object to any of the “national” days or months on a variety of constitutional grounds. Where does the silliness stop?

    Comment by daleyrock”

    You’ve got a point.

    Now, to me, it does seem like something more than just noting our religiosity and religious history to say ‘This is the day of prayer, according to the Federal Government’. Even if it’s not mandatory, it’s insulting, it’s irrational, and it’s seems like something a church should do instead (Every day, though).

    I wonder how much money was wasted on this stupid lawsuit, or on the legislation to enact the non holiday (I thought it was some kind of holiday, but I guess I’m wrong on that)?

    The real problem is that the federal government shouldn’t be concerned with what we remember on whatever day. Some congressman wants me to honor his favorite tree or bird or act or race or whatever, and I want him to shut the hell up.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  19. “Now, to me, it does seem like something more than just noting our religiosity and religious history to say ‘This is the day of prayer, according to the Federal Government’.”

    dustin – No. It’s a commemoration, just like the other dates or months I notes and many others that exist on the calendar. If some people who aren’t happy unless they are making other people unhappy want to make a big deal about it, as they have, that is their right. I think it’s beyond silly.

    daleyrocks (1feed5)

  20. Fair enough, Daley.

    It is silly to go to court over this. I can’t argue with that. And I think commemoration, which I guess is why I find “Under God” or “In God we Trust” to be acceptable, is all this is, then I can’t really say one is Ok and the other isn’t.

    I disagree with that notion, however, and say it’s an actual call for Americans to pray, which while I think all Americans should pray, is unconstitutional and none of the government’s damn business.

    In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called the nation to a day of prayer and humility to acknowledge the sins that had nearly brought America to destruction during the Civil War. President Dwight D. Eisenhower revived the National Day of Prayer in 1952, and although it continued, Congress needed to pass a new bill each year to do so, making advanced planning difficult. On May 5, 1988, legislation was unanimously ratified by both houses of Congress and signed by President Ronald Reagan to establish an annual National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May

    So basically, I am arguing against Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan, and I’m sure that’s damn near impossible to do and not be wrong, but they seem to be asking for people to pray… not merely commemorating the concept of prayer like they do the history of black people.

    You note one side is silly… I think both sides are.

    Just the way I see it. I think the judge was bound to admit that asking people to pray is off limits.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  21. It’s not the government’s role to commemorate a religious tradition. If you can’t see why such a tradition is controversial, and does not apply to all of the citizens of the United States, then you’ll never understand it.

    Of course it’s a waste of time to people who still want the government to be a Protestant marketing group. These people are usually Cold War era products, who still think that Atheists are coming for their babies.

    If this makes you unhappy, tough. Everyone has to deal with things in life that don’t always reinforce their world views. Our government does not exist to serve your religious message.

    Get over it. Grow up.

    Michael (2a2b55)

  22. Just the way I see it. I think the judge was bound to admit that asking people to pray is off limits.

    So you add a rider to the name saying “prayer or quiet contemplation” and every one will be happy.

    Nothing inherently religious about contemplation, and it adds secular balance.

    No way the people who brought suit could have a problem with this, right?

    Uncle Pinky (22f482)

  23. I think the judge was bound to admit that asking people to pray is off limits.

    i’ll support your argument when petitioners in court no longer have to “pray” for a ruling in their favor.

    same words, same arguments: let the court system and the lawyers heal themselves first.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  24. As I posted on another blog …

    “I know that most of us will be astonished to learn that Judge Crabb is a Carter-appointed judge …

    Judge Crabb joins the ranks of those actively promoting the zero-deity religion …

    (Reminder: two major groups of atheists – one group doesn’t believe in any deity, and doesn’t give a proverbial democ’s fundament whether anyone else does or doesn’t (I consider these to be genuine atheists) – the other group religiously believes that there is no deity and, as such, promotes that religious belief, while trying to convert as many as possible to that belief)”

    The latter group are the ones being facilitated by JudgE Crabb … and they are promoting one religion – their zero-deity one – at the expense of all other religions, most of the time …

    The genuine atheist, upon hearing of a “National Day of Prayer”, simply thinks “I pray that such nonsense will soon be over.” while getting on with Life …

    Alasdair (205079)

  25. #

    I think the judge was bound to admit that asking people to pray is off limits.

    i’ll support your argument when petitioners in court no longer have to “pray” for a ruling in their favor.

    same words, same arguments: let the court system and the lawyers heal themselves first.

    Comment by redc1c4 — 4/15/2010 @ 10:03 pm

    Well, the complaints that our courts are wasting their time with it, I think, bolsters my argument that this kind of legislation is not necessary for the function of our government. And if it’s not that, I oppose it. I know this isn’t exactly the cornerstone of fiscal sustainability… it’s largely just irrelevant.

    But our government has no business bothering with this kind of law. It didn’t when Lincoln wanted a day of prayer so Americans would apologize to God for the Civil War’s root issues (Albeit, that’s an interesting thought).

    Indeed, a bunch of lawyers should heal themselves of the idea that government should be involved in anything it isn’t absolutely needed for.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  26. dustin – If you read Lincoln’s actual proclamation with its references to scriptures and the almighty God, it is a lot more objectionable than a generic national day of prayer to fight of the red menace adopted in the 1950s.

    I think the current objections seem to be over the task forces involved in planning events and use of government facilities, but I could be wrong. Depending on the wording of the presidential proclamation in question, I do not think commemoration is the wrong word to use. It fits with the short summary you excerpted of Lincoln’s effort regarding the Civil War.

    daleyrocks (1feed5)

  27. Fair enough, Daley. I see where you’re coming from and I think it’s arguable your way but I just don’t see this as mere commemoration.

    I grant that mere commemoration should be constitutional, and I grant that this is a stupid thing to have a huge lawsuit over, or be offended by.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  28. so when are the courts going to change their verbiage to eliminate the “pray the court” nonsense, or do i need to sue over that too?

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  29. I’m a big fan of having a “Prayer” section at the end of legal claims and responses.

    It’s just a convenience… the word isn’t religious at all and has no holy connotation, but helps me quickly find out exactly what the hell the person writing the document wants. That’s always the first part I read after I know the complaint isn’t absolutely ridiculous.

    It’s not nonsense, in my opinion… it’s an elegant way of asking for stuff.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  30. for those of you against the “National Day of Prayer” – are you also against “ThanksGiving Day”?

    seaPea (38ffcc)

  31. sorry dustin, but either mentioning “prayer” is establishing religion or it isn’t. if one part of the government can’t use the word, none of them can. pick a new word or prepare to be sued.

    its typical lawyer hypocrisy to argue there’s a difference, and that’s why your profession is so roundly despised in society. you come up with BS to screw with the rest of us, and sophistry as to why the rules you invent don’t apply to you. Shakespeare was right.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)


  32. its typical lawyer hypocrisy to argue there’s a difference, and that’s why your profession is so roundly despised in society. you come up with BS to screw with the rest of us

    Some words have more than one meaning. This is just an elegant way of saying ‘This is what I’m asking you for’. The words in the Bible are just words. When you call God or Jesus your Lord, you are using a term that can also be applied to humans who are hardly comparable to God or Jesus. You can pray in a non religious way. A prayer is a reverent request.

    In our legal system, courts are actually treated with reverence and great respect. As I said, there is no religious connotation by using a word that is usually meant in a religious sense.

    No, the word itself isn’t the problem. It’s just a word, and if the law was ‘National day of talking to God’ it would seem like the same law to me.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  33. Shakespeare was right.

    Comment by redc1c4

    Indeed he was. Monsters will attempt to kill all the lawyers first in an effort to reign tyrrany over you, and it’s a terrible thing to do.

    That is what you meant right? That people should kill lawyers “first”? Who uttered that line and what where they attempting to do by killing lawyers?

    I don’t think Jack Cade and his gang were exactly Tea Partiers bent on freedom from legal sophists.

    Now, this was just another of Shakespeare’s awesome and underappreciated jokes. He was probably bashing them a bit ironically, as yeah, a tyrant would kill all these lawyers who prevent him from false claims of power or thrones, but damn, lawyers actually are pretty annoying sometimes.

    But anyway, the word ‘Prayer’ itself is not the problem, of course. Just as the Bible’s words are just words, but can be very powerful because of their meaning, it’s important to think about what “prayer” means. In Court, it’s a great guide to the requested results.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  34. AG80: what do you want a federal judge to do when someone brings a case and files a lawsuit alleging that the government is violating the constitution? Throw it out without even looking at it?

    I mean, it’s not as though the courts went looking for this case. Someone brought it to them, and the judge did her job: she decided the case someone brought to her.

    Dustin: I think the law would serve the citizenry better if legal documents were written in plain terms with as little esoteric language as possible, and so i find empty formalisms like praying for a result to be irritating. They help obscure what’s going on from the view of a layperson – and while that might be good for lawyers as a class, it’s bad for society as a whole.

    aphrael (9e8ccd)

  35. Dustin: I think the law would serve the citizenry better if legal documents were written in plain terms with as little esoteric language as possible

    Probably in the whole, if this stuff were tossed out for maximally simple language, everyone would benefit. You have to be careful with that. I can see ‘Prayer’ replaces with ‘Requests’, but I bet it would be replaced with “Section 22.3 Compliant Statement of Posited Court Actions”.

    Elegant is not necessarily the enemy of Simple. And some of this legal jargon is beautiful. Here, the claimant is revering the institution of justice, showing respect and underlining the fact that this is the last recourse she has. Poor thing. So sweet and pretty and in need. She’s praying. To you. Come on, give her some money. Just a little money. No… more money. She’s actually going to need $25 million.

    Oh, and I get like 8. 12 if there’s an appeal. Minus my costs, which are about 8, or 12 if there’s an appeal.

    I’m going to sleep now.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  36. for those of you against the “National Day of Prayer” – are you also against “ThanksGiving Day”?

    Comment by seaPea —

    I’m ashamed to admit that yes, I am 100% against the Federal Government having any law regarding Thanksgiving, which I find to be the greatest holiday that every decent person celebrates or should.

    It’s just none of the Fed’s flappity business. In my ridiculously not going to happen ideal world, the State of Texas would recognize Thanksgiving, and the Federal government would not deal with it. Federal employees wouldn’t all get the day off, because if they are Federal employees, they must be doing something extremely important like saving the world from Al Qaida. As a vet, I recognize the value of many long weekends. Special exception for those not deployed.

    But some states would be able to abandon Thanksgiving and Christmas if their voters really wanted to. They could be pro choice as my state is pro life, and folks would move to my state because it’s simply superior in function. The federal government isn’t really federal. It’s kinda gotten in the way of a lot of the experiments democracy could have had, in the noble effort to eradicate slavery (yep, I think that’s why).

    I can deal with this imperfect world with the amazing burden of national days of prayer and thanksgiving and federal funding for circus performer art theory or whatever. Life isn’t perfect.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  37. In our legal system, courts are actually treated with reverence and great respect.

    why? they certainly haven’t done anything to earn it…

    the courts i’ve seen and dealt with are full of vain, fallible and willfully self-absorbed pricks who use, more often than not, their power over people to do as they wish…. Lenny Bruce was also right.
    if you don’t like the reputation your profession has, i submit it is the fault of its practitioners, not its victims.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  38. 37

    Sitting on a fence again…

    EricPWJohnson (ab8454)

  39. I see this act as an opening on a total ban on religion – if DULY elected representatives elected BY THE PEOPLE cannot by an established legislative process – ENACT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE – then there is no constitutional bill of rights

    EricPWJohnson (ab8454)

  40. Red, I just don’t think that’s a very good argument. I don’t think all lawyers are bad, so we might as well just categorize them. you hate the lawyers who are willfully self absorbed pricks. Why hate the ones who fight them?

    It’s a system. It’s the system where justice is administered. It’s obeyed and respected because if it isn’t, the world is simply lost, in my opinion.

    Oh well. I am hardly the God of the Lawyers and not a member of the ABA. I don’t have much power to control the field, but what meager power I have, I think I use pretty well. You’re asking for more than that, and it’s hard to respect that kind of crap, though I’ve gone out of my way to do so. It’s soooooo easy to hate lawyers. But tell me: do you hate sitting in the waiting room at Kaiser Permanente next to three sweaty, fat ladies who are all chain smoking?

    I mean, who’s the real enemy here? It’s not me. How can you pray attention to me when really, you’re covered in sweat that isn’t even yours?

    dustin (b54cdc)

  41. I see this act as an opening on a total ban on religion – if DULY elected representatives elected BY THE PEOPLE cannot by an established legislative process – ENACT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE – then there is no constitutional bill of rights

    Comment by EricPWJohnson

    Stop pretending to believe the crazy stuff you say (joke, but come on). And why emphasize “duly”?

    And the constitutional bill of rights was explicitly meant to stand in against the democratic will of the people. No matter how many people want congress to ban World Net Daily, it just can’t be done here. No matter how badly I want men with limp handshakes and no sense of MY PERSONAL BUBBLE to be thrown in prison without a trial, it can’t be done here. Just wanted to point out the basic problem with your line of reasoning, that not being enough of a democracy somehow contradicts our bill of rights’ functionality. They are your rights… not your ‘they are still popular so you have them’s

    You can go to whatever church you like. And trust me, you are not more likely to lose that right because of this ruling.

    If you want to get pissed, ask: Is there a risk of creeping Sharia, because Christians stomach the rule of law better than Muslims? Then you can get pissed.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  42. “There is no crueler tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”
    – Charles-Louis de Secondat
    (1689-1755) Baron de Montesquieu
    Source: The Spirit of the Laws, 1748

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  43. Dustin

    I’m one of those weird types that believe in majority rules

    I know I know….

    Its just this – a national day of prayer didnt denote a demoniation, a relgion, a diety, or anything else

    The probelm is when one judge says something defacto it becomes in essence a type of law for everyone – thats not what the constitution nor the legislation intended

    It was another classic overreach

    EricPWJohnson (ab8454)

  44. “The same law that prohibits the government from declaring a National Day of Prayer also prohibits it from declaring a National Day of Blasphemy.”

    Darn… This would be more fun, I had my Muhammad cartoons all ready to go.

    Maybe we can get the post office to issue stamps with the Muhammad cartoons instead.

    DT (54e188)

  45. National Day of Prayer did nothing to promote a particular church nor all churches nor a religion nor all religions. The government did not need to separate itself from anything.

    That being said, the government did not need to create The National Day of Prayer in the first place. Again, there was no call for such.

    Now, momma always told me – two wrongs don’t make a right.

    There is a movement (and has been for quite awhile) to remove the power and importance of churches and religion in America. This ruling, I feel, is more toward that end. And for a single judge to wield such power seems profoundly un-American.

    I wouldn’t want to kill all the lawyers – just remove them from any position of authority. :-) Maybe we can outlaw practicing law?

    Corwin (ea9428)

  46. Listen & Learn: Mark Levin on “National Day of Prayer” Being Declared Unconstitutional…

    In yet another instance of turning the Constitution on its head and making our Founders roll in their graves, a leftist activist federal judge in Wisconsin sided with an atheist group called the Freedom From Religion Foundation and declared that the Na…

    Vocal Minority (24ae41)

  47. I bluntly think that these anti-faith jihadists need to get a life. I would go as far as to say if i was the judge here, i would be very open to the notion that this is a de minimis injury at best and not worth anyone’s time.

    Btw, its great to know that the government can’t have a national day of blasphemy. so i assume then we can sue the government for funding the “piss christ?”

    Seriously, I wouldn’t mind this kind of crap half as much if it was applied evenly. But when the schools in california can force children to play as muslims for a week, we realize that too often that freedom of religion really means freedom from christinianity and nothing more.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  48. Judge Crabb is long known in Wisconsin to be a baglady for the Wisconsin Democrat Party.

    Packer City Dan

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  49. This is the kind of scenario where I ask about the role of “intent” in legislation. For a traditional argument is that whatever it was they meant, it did not forbid the government praying or letting government buildings be used for church services, for the same people who agreed to the Bill of Rights also agreed and practiced prayer and used govt. buildings for religious services. One can argue who was “orthodox christian” or “deist” or just going along to not make a fuss, but they did.

    Opposing a call to prayer not only puts one in conflict with Lincoln and Reagan, but also FDR, for as they say, “There are no atheists in foxholes” (well, close to none).

    On one hand I am not impressed with the need for the govt. to acknowledge religious belief, because those who believe will believe anyway, and no one will believe because the govt. tells them to. But on the other hand, it seems even stranger for the govt. to be a “religion free zone”, which, would be fundamentally impossible depending on what one means by the words (for “words mean something”).

    If “religion” means the organized traditions of a people, then you can have no acknowledgement of any group as its own entity. If you mean “religion” as those organized traditions in reference to a diety, then you are doing view-point descrimination, that one can talk about anything except “god”, and you’ll end up wondering if Buddhism, for example, qualifies as a religion or not.

    But if you mean by “religion” the fundamental beliefs about the nature of the world and morality and hence has direct impact on how an individual lives, we all have a “religion”, even if the religion is to not believe in any particular diety and try to be a reasonable kind person.

    On the surface of the legal argument the judge is making a valid point, I think, but we know historically since the Declaration of Independence the idea of govt. being a “free from religion zone” is almost an impossible thought.

    So, for the person who does not believe there is a God, many (most?) see the world as one set of truths which are obvious to everyone, and then some people throw other ideas on top of it; they want to stick to the ideas which (they think) are “common” to all, a “neutral ground”.

    While common, that view does not necessarily hold up well to critical analysis. There is no objective evidence that can disprove God any more than there is objective evidence that can prove God. The most one can do is find objective evidence that seems to undermine the existence of God, at least as described by some, or objective evidence that seems to make better sense given the existence of God. Top scientists in all fields have encountered one or the other as they study the things that are.

    So, to try to live in a “free from religion” zone is impossible. The only thing that can be done is a “free from your type of religion zone”.

    I believe Annie Laurie Galor is head of the “Freedom from Religion Foundation” which her mother, Anne Gaylor started many years ago. Annie was a regular columnist for the “Daily Cardinal” at the Univ of Wisc. during my time there.

    Another topic which might be worth discussion is the psychology of belief and unbelief. As noted by most posters here, whether “believing”, agnostic, or atheist, they do not see this (getting ride of a “National Day of Prayer” that is voluntary, etc.) as an issue to devote one’s life to.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  50. We’ve come a long way since the liberal Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas wrote in an opinion, “We are a religious nation.” Clearly District Court judge Crabb thinks not- but she is only a trial court judge.

    mhr (f328b7)

  51. In a 66-page opinion issued Thursday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said the holiday violates the “establishment clause” of the First Amendment, which creates a separation of church and state

    Arrgh! We live in a nation of illiterates!

    Actually only some are illiterate, the rest are deliberately dishonest.

    Subotai (be079a)

  52. And the constitutional bill of rights was explicitly meant to stand in against the democratic will of the people. No matter how many people want congress to ban World Net Daily , it just can’t be done here

    No, and no. The Constitution explicitly was the democratic will of the people. And if 90% of the people want to ban World Net Daily, the Constitition cannot and was was not intended to stop them. Majority rule was the founding principle of this country.

    Subotai (be079a)

  53. I don’t see some of my replies posted, so don’t think I’m ignoring you. In this case, I don’t think it’s the website… my laptop downloaded a bunch of Vista updates and something is clearly wrong with it now (and wasn’t before).

    Anyway, I respect the polite discussion, bla bla bla.

    While Sub mentioned that this isn’t the establishment of religion, I think the Supreme Court says any endorsement of any Religious activity is indeed to be held as establishment… which probably is wrong and I am sure not what the founders meant, but that’s the law this judge was trying to adhere to… perhaps she didn’t see this as a choice she could make.

    I see where she’s coming from, and it’s not some attempt to make this country Athiest (which I realize most of you know even though you disagree with us).

    Subotai, the Constitution is, as you say, in some sense democratic (sorta) in that we wanted it to be imposed on us. But the entire point of the bill of rights is to protect us from the state. Our Republic (which is democratic now, to a great extent, in that we directly and indirectly elect all our leaders) cannot ban world net daily if 99% of people want it to. They cannot take away certain basic rights we have.

    That’s one of the primary and basic points of the Bill of Rights, and respectfully, if you don’t understand that, you should read the Federalist Papers.

    How we get from the existence of this bill of rights all the way to this ruling is a lot more of a stretch than the fact that the Bill of Rights is indeed a hedge against democracy.

    dustin (b54cdc)

  54. And if 90% of the people want to ban World Net Daily, the Constitition cannot and was was not intended to stop them. Majority rule was the founding principle of this country.

    Nonsense.

    For one thing, the first amendment is an absolute ban. Congress shall make NO LAW abridging.

    If the people want to change that, the people can go through the process established in the Constitution: they can pass an amendment through the legislatures, or state constitutional conventions, of a supermajority of the states.

    For another thing, the structure of the Senate and the Electoral College make it clear that the framers of the Constitution made a deliberate decision not to base decision-making on majority rule. The House is a majority-rule institution, sure. But the Senate is not: representing a majority of voters was neither necessary nor sufficient for a victory in the Senate.

    Moreover, while there was a major shift towards majoritarianism in the state legislatures during the last quarter of the eighteenth and first quarter of the nineteenth centuries, at the time of the Constitution, many states themselves had non-majoritarian structures, and Rhode Island continued to reject majoritarianism until the 1840s.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  55. Dustin-

    I guess one could say the Bill of Rights was the rule agreed upon by a majority when they thought their intentions and abilities were wise, noble, and good to protect against the day when a simple majority was less wise, noble and good.

    Am I correct in thinking that if 99% of the people wanted Worldnet Daily, or MSNBC, silenced, they could do so by Constitutional Amendment? So a super-majority continues to be the ultimate authority. I guess the idea is that one can envision 51%, or even 59% of the public wanting something really bad, but the high bar required of a Constitutional Amendment is less likely to be met in a fit of misplaced passion.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  56. MD in Philly – yes, absolutely. Some percentage of the people could do it by constitutional amendment. It wouldn’t be a flat majority, though; it would have to be broken up among the states.

    The only thing which can’t be done via constitutional amendment is deprive states of equal representation in the Senate. And even that could be done via a two-step process: repeal the prohibition on such a change, and then make the change.

    aphrael (73ebe9)

  57. Am I correct in thinking that if 99% of the people wanted Worldnet Daily, or MSNBC, silenced, they could do so by Constitutional Amendment?

    OK OK OK wiseguy…
    :)

    dustin (b54cdc)

  58. “Majority rule was the founding principle of this country.”

    - Subotai

    Wrong. The protection of the public interest (which includes the rights of minorities) was the founding principle of this country. Majority rule was treated as a secondary (albeit very important) goal. That’s why we have checks on the majority will built into our system.

    Leviticus (b6f9db)

  59. Checks that Pelosi/Reid/Barcky care little about.

    JD (c26e0b)

  60. i’m not a fan of a National Day of prayer. Congress ought to stick to it’s own area of competence … assuming they have one. But, the country was founded on the principle that our rights are endowed by our creator. decisions like this one look to the government as the source and arbiter of our rights. down that road lies hell on earth.

    quasimodo (4af144)

  61. Sub

    > And if 90% of the people want to ban World Net Daily, the Constitition cannot and was was not intended to stop them. Majority rule was the founding principle of this country

    Even if 90% of the American people, barring an amendment, they are not supposed to get a restriction on freedom of speech and/or the press. Of course the amendment process requires less than 90% agreement, so in that scenario you have the right result, but the wrong process.

    And the declaration of independence states that any government, even a democracy, that doesn’t protect inalienable right such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is illegitimate. The majority can so oppress the minority that it makes itself illegitimate. Now as a practical matter if 99% of the population wants to harm the other 1%, that 1% can complain all it wants, but the 99% will get its way in most cases. But there is a difference between might and right, and our founding fathers were pretty explicit on what was to be the most protected.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  62. Is this really all that unexpected? Western Civ is on the decline. Earthquakes, disease, volcanoes, all on the increase. Isn’t that Biblical?

    Hal (GT) (1dec4d)

  63. Congress ought to stick to it’s own area of competence … assuming they have one.
    Comment by quasimodo

    Patterico, when you think about retiring, or becoming independently wealthy to promote good causes without your day job getting in the way, make a collection of political humor as it has lightened the day of your readers.

    Quasimodo- I liked the second part of your post as well, which I think is similar to what I was trying to say. Virtually no one (I think, anyway) thinks the govt. making the proclamation of a National Day of Prayer of itself means all that much; it certainly isn’t going to spark religious fervor in the hearts of those don’t believe. But to eliminate it due to hostility to theism in general or Christianity in particular takes us to a very distant place from where it was presumed people could agree there was a Creator, even if it was thought that He only “wound up the universe then let it go on its own”.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  64. “…the Constitution is, as you say, in some sense democratic (sorta) in that we wanted it to be imposed on us…”

    I dissent!
    We, the People, imposed the Constitution upon Government, to limit its’ intrusion into our private lives,
    which is why its’ (the Federal Government) powers are few and enumerated,
    and those powers held by the States, and the People, are many, and mostly un-named.

    We are not a Democracy, but a Republic, which is why minorities have the ability to resist the mob.
    But, the determination of a few, to drive Religion (Christianity, for the most part) from the Public Square, is a pox on society,
    and should be excised, as we would do with any communicable disease.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f9a039)

  65. Atheistic ears shall burn from this video showing
    THE TRUE POWER OF PRAYER
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m6qC6FCiY0

    Tor Hershman (2b46ca)

  66. Comment by Hal (GT) — 4/16/2010 @ 10:12 am

    If not Biblical, it is in the realm of Denying the Mandate of Heaven!

    AD - RtR/OS! (f9a039)

  67. We are not a Democracy, but a Republic

    I don’t understand why anyone would think being a republic means we aren’t a democracy.

    We aren’t a pure direct democracy, but we do directly and indirectly elect our leaders. We are simply a democracy.

    I also disagree that this ruling is a determination to drive religion out of the public square, but I agree that people who want to do that is a pox on society, and that the constitution is an imposition on our democratic government to preserve the rights of the minority (or majority, or anyone).

    for some reason, perhaps because I’m prone to this kind of error myself, it’s just annoying to me when people say we aren’t a democracy because we are a Republic.

    “a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens who can elect people to represent them”

    “by means of elected representatives of the peopl”

    “majority rule”

    The third one is not a completely accurate description of the United States, I agree. We are not a direct or absolute democracy.

    Still, we’re a democracy.

    I agree with AD’s views for the most part, but it’s a really good thing that we’re a democracy, to the extent that we are. And a lot of our problems are because we might be too much of a democracy. It’s just difficult to discuss some of the problems and merits of our system if we don’t admit the fact that the USA is actually a democracy, while also being a republic and having strong antimajority protections.

    I am being a pedant, which is probably unfair because I’m hardly the most precise writer in the universe.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  68. Dustin, I agree that we are a “democracy” in that we recognize the voice of the people;
    but, if you will notice, when I said we are not a “Democracy”, I capitalized the “D”.
    We would be fundamentally different if we were organized as a Democracy, rather than a Republic utilyzing democratic methods.

    The classic example of the difference (and quite sexist too, if I might proudly add), is two men and a woman being washed ashore on a uninhabited island, and they hold an election by majority rule to see whether the men will have sex with the woman.
    Every vote is 2-1: Majority rules, Democracy wins.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f9a039)

  69. AD

    Ah, the old “6 foxes and 5 hens voting on what is for dinner” critique of democracy.

    Which is percisely why the founders believed that even if the majority wanted something, it still might be wrong.

    A.W. (e7d72e)

  70. Right. So the distinction is that we are a democracy, but we are not a democracy first and foremost. First and foremost, we are a Madisonian republic.

    Leviticus (9b7446)

  71. Right. So the distinction is that we are a democracy, but we are not a democracy first and foremost. First and foremost, we are a Madisonian republic.

    Comment by Leviticus

    Public schools made me dumb, or this is how I would have articulated it.

    But hey, I used more words, and usually, I charge by the word.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  72. You said it fine. I have a penchant for condensation.

    Leviticus (30ac20)

  73. aphrael:

    AG80: what do you want a federal judge to do when someone brings a case and files a lawsuit alleging that the government is violating the constitution? Throw it out without even looking at it?

    First, I don’t think that was my point. People have been bringing suits against religion for a long, long time and they usually result in the same way. Except, every once in a while, you get a judge who wants to try one more time.

    Second: I’m not a lawyer, but I think you have to have the government’s permission to sue the government. So, yes, a judge should consider that seriously.

    Ag80 (f67beb)

  74. The U.S. Constitution limits the powers of Congress. The First Amendment states specifically that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibit the free exercise thereof. It was Truman and Reagan, Presidents (not Congress) that established a national day of prayer. Much of the freedom of religious expression that has been lost is due to repeated violations of Ninth Amendment in the courts.

    Jeff Farris (42da75)


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