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Justice Ginsburg nailed it: The Court majority has strayed into a minefield. We can look forward to the day when this decision is reversed either by the Congress or by the Court after coming to its senses.
Owning a gun is one thing. Openly carrying it into restaurants, stores, etc., is another. Having freedom to do even stupid stuff is one thing. Actually doing stupid stuff is another.
In response to:

Getting Back To Religious Freedom

Doug Indeap* Wrote: May 25, 2014 11:48 AM
Oops! The reply above was meant to go here.
In response to:

Getting Back To Religious Freedom

Doug Indeap* Wrote: May 25, 2014 11:47 AM
You rightly note that the constitutional separation of church and state does not prevent citizens from making decisions based on principles derived from their religions. Moreover, the religious beliefs of government officials naturally may inform their decisions on policies. The principle, in this context, merely constrains government officials not to make decisions with the predominant purpose or primary effect of advancing religion; in other words, the predominant purpose and primary effect must be nonreligious or secular in nature. A decision coinciding with religious views is not invalid for that reason as long as it has a secular purpose and effect. Wake Forest University has published a short, objective Q&A primer on the current law of separation of church and state–as applied by the courts rather than as caricatured in the blogosphere. I commend it to you. http://divinity.wfu.edu/uploads/2011/09/divinity-law-statement.pdf With respect to symbols and such, generally, if a monument is displayed “by” a government on its land, then that likely will be regarded as “government speech” to be assessed for compliance with the establishment clause. If a monument is displayed by a private person or group on government land, it may well be regarded as “individual speech” to be evaluated under the free exercise clause. In the latter case, the government, of course, cannot discriminate against particular religions and thus generally must allow other persons or groups equal opportunity to express their religious views on the government land. In sorting this out, much depends on the details of each case. The Wake Forest paper does a nice job of describing how the courts have approached the issues in this context.
In response to:

Getting Back To Religious Freedom

Doug Indeap* Wrote: May 24, 2014 7:13 PM
It is important to distinguish between "individual" and "government" speech about religion. The constitutional separation of church and state does not purge religion from the public square--far from it. Indeed, the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause assures that each individual is free to exercise his or her religious views--publicly as well as privately. The Amendment constrains only the government not to promote or otherwise take steps toward establishment of religion. As government can only act through the individuals comprising its ranks, when those individuals are performing their official duties, they effectively are the government and thus should conduct themselves in accordance with the First Amendment's constraints on government. When acting in their individual capacities, they are free to exercise their religions as they please. While figuring out whether someone is speaking for the government in a particular circumstance may sometimes be difficult, making the distinction is critical. While the First Amendment undoubtedly was intended to preclude the government from establishing an official religion as Mr. Charles notes, that was hardly the limit of its intended scope. The first Congress debated and rejected just such a narrow provision (“no religion shall be established by law, nor shall the equal rights of conscience be infringed”) and ultimately chose the more broadly phrased prohibition now found in the Amendment. During his presidency, Madison vetoed two bills, neither of which would form an official religion, on the ground that they were contrary to the establishment clause. While some in Congress expressed surprise that the Constitution prohibited Congress from incorporating a church in the town of Alexandria in the District of Columbia or granting land to a church in the Mississippi Territory, Congress upheld both vetoes. Separation of church and state is hardly a new invention of modern courts. In keeping with the Amendment’s terms and legislative history and other evidence, the courts have wisely interpreted it to restrict the government from taking steps that could establish religion de facto as well as de jure. Were the Amendment interpreted merely to preclude government from enacting a statute formally establishing a state church, the intent of the Amendment could easily be circumvented by government doing all sorts of things to promote this or that religion–stopping just short of cutting a ribbon to open its new church.
No, the Supreme Court does not "get to dictate absolute reality" (whatever you mean by that), but, yes, it does get to decide what the Constitution means. And it has decided--with good reason--that when the 14th Amendment was adopted in 1868 guaranteeing "persons" certain rights, the understanding and intent of those drafting and ratifying that amendment was that "persons" encompassed those who have been born. That is now the law. You may have a personal opinion about what you regard as persons and murder and such, but that is all it is--your personal opinion. Feel free to have your say and even conduct yourself according to your own opinions. Don't feel shocked, though, if the rest of us have our say and conduct ourselves according to our own opinions and the law.
I understand that you consider a fetus a "baby" and "person." Do you understand that I don't? Nor does the Constitution per the Supreme Court. As it happens, I and every other person have the freedom to act on our own beliefs in that regard, and are not constrained to act according to the beliefs of you or others. So, you do your thing, and I'll do mine. Neither of us has to like the other's choices. You plainly don't like mine, and--just so you'll know--I don't like yours. And there we are. Let's just wish each other a nice day.
I'm intrigued by your objection/question: "What business does the government have requiring anyone to affirm or confirm their religious beliefs for the sake of a anything?" Do you feel the same way about the government's insertion in 1956 of an affirmation of a god ("under God") into the pledge it prescribes for citizens to confirm their allegiance to the nation?
Don't you suppose that if qualifying employers wish to be exempt from the law owing to religious objections, the least the government can expect of them is that they raise their hands and say so? Otherwise, how is the government or anyone else to know that they want an exemption?
You may not like paying money to the government and you may not like what the government does with the money, but those are garden variety gripes common to most taxpayers. Such gripes hardly amount to being forced to act contrary to one's conscience. Should each of us be exempted from paying some portion(s) of our taxes so we aren’t thereby “forced” to pay for making war, providing health care, teaching evolution, or whatever else each of us may consider wrong or even immoral? If each of us could opt out of this or that law or tax with the excuse that our religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.
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