Saturday, May 14, 2005

Judges. God. Law. - SB520

What doesn’t fit in that title? Depending on your viewpoint, what seems either a little hemmed in by mankind or totally out of place? Or should I ask, Who?

I am a Christian and I love to consider my God and what I know of His desires through the Word and ministry of Jesus Christ into my decision-making processes. In fact, when I am actually capable of doing so, I think I come up with better decisions, resolutions and actions.

But that is me, with my God, working on my personal life as it affects ... me and my family.

There is a Senate Bill in the works - “The Constitution Restoration Act” ( S 520 ) that is poorly written at best, but taking into account the skills of those writers, it can be safely assumed that it says exactly what they want, and leaves it open to further interpretation to support some future legislation that will go further towards their cause. The moment I read its name I knew it was bad. The way they name their laws is amazing - one only has to take the name, reverse its intent to the worst degree and there you have the simple truth of it. Obfuscation rules when it comes to naming laws, some call it framing.

Here is a portion of the text:

“Constitution Restoration Act of 2005 (Introduced in Senate)

S 520 IS
Sec. 1260. Matters not reviewable

`Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review, by appeal, writ of certiorari, or otherwise, any matter to the extent that relief is sought against an entity of Federal, State, or local government, or against an officer or agent of Federal, State, or local government (whether or not acting in official or personal capacity), concerning that entity's, officer's, or agent's acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.”

When I read these things, I try to simplify it down to the basic meaning, taking out the legalese so that I can better understand it. Maybe this will help you, too:

... the Supreme Court shall not have jurisdiction to review any matter to the extent that relief is sought against any governmental anything, or governmental officer in official or private context, concerning that group’s or person’s acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.

It is so far-reaching that still I find it difficult to wrap my head around it. Maybe another cup of coffee will help. OK, here goes:

First of all, if the Supreme Court is the highest law of our land, why should they not be able to review any case that they consider worth reviewing? Very simply put, to limit the review powers of the SUPREME Court is to deny them the responsibility that they were put in place to handle.

And second - “(their) acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government” is missing one word, and has several extras. The only way I can agree to a statement even close to this would be:

“(Their) acknowledgment of God as their personal source of sovereign law and liberty.”

Faith cannot come from government. Nor can one faith define our governmental laws. Faith must be shared personally, and should be proclaimed personally, but should not be declared as law for all in a country that is accepting of different faiths. Whose God will be used if a Buddhist speaks out about a Muslim issue?

Freedom of religion is THE first founding tenet of our country. That means all religions, placing no more importance on one religion over another, or on no religion at all. All religions are equal in they eyes of our Constitution. To allow some element of our government to define their God’s law as the law of the land leaves too much open to interpretation, to a definition of God, and to mankind’s ability to get it right.

God cannot be proven outside of theology. The Faith in God is a personal understanding of many things; some would say all things, in one’s life. Not all Americans have that understanding, nor should they be judged by another person’s understanding of God.

Is God my personal sovereign source of law? Yes. As I understand God’s law, and desires of me, He will judge me at my time beyond any judgment I may have here among men.

Is God my personal sovereign source of liberty? Yes. As I understand God’s creation and my small place in it, God provides all for me to make good or bad of within the context of Free Will and His desires.

Is God my personal source of government? This becomes a trapping question – there is no “personal” in government, there are only “the people” as a whole. “The people” do not agree on who God is, or even if there is God. God and government do not go together in this country, nor should they.

For a government official to acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government is the same as that person declaring only God’s laws as the basis of this country. That puts them up against the Constitution and who knows how many other legal documents of this country. They should be fired, impeached or recalled, and rebuked by their Christian and political brethren alike.

For a government official to acknowledge God as their personal source of law and liberty is entirely acceptable as long as they agree that the laws of this country are the laws to be upheld in our courts.

Congressman John Conyers (D – MI) wrote in his press release of 9/21/2004 that the “(Constitution Restoration Act of 2004) is a response to anger at two federal court decisions that cited foreign law and found certain governmental invocations of God to violate the First Amendment.” I am told that those two decisions were 1. The death penalty decision in a crime committed before the age of 18 and 2. The Ten Commandments case in Alabama.

As for the death penalty case (Roper v. Simmons) of a minor, no foreign laws were considered in the ruling, nor was theology. The worldwide confirmation of the courts decision was only noted as: “(c) The overwhelming weight of international opinion against the juvenile death penalty is not controlling here, but provides respected and significant confirmation for the Court's determination that the penalty is disproportionate punishment for offenders under 18.”

The Ten Commandments case I choose to differ with in outcome, and think it failed because of faulty arguing. My understanding, as stated elsewhere on this blog (comments in Church and State), is that The Ten Commandments are historical as well as theological. There is wide confirmation that Moses did bring two tablets off the mountain with some very significant laws written on them, regardless of who you think Moses spoke to while up there. As such, I see them as historical and worthy of public display along with other historical depictions.

Still, it appears to me that this bill, the deceptively named “Constitution Resolution Act,” desires to create a theocracy, and that is something I, as a Christian, am against even if it is a theocracy in support of my God. My interpretation of God and His Word may not be the same as your interpretation of His Word and it is too open to variation within interpretation to be used as a basis for law.

BUT WAIT … there’s more, also included in the bill are these “Enforcement” provisions:

“To the extent that a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or any judge of any Federal court engages in any activity that exceeds the jurisdiction of the court of that justice or judge, as the case may be, by reason of section 1260 or 1370 of title 28, United States Code, as added by this Act, engaging in that activity shall be deemed to constitute the commission of--

(1) an offense for which the judge may be removed upon impeachment and conviction; and

(2) a breach of the standard of good behavior required by article III, section 1 of the Constitution.”

Some say this can be interpreted to mean that the Supreme Court couldn’t review S520, as it would be outside their jurisdiction. If so, is this bill also taking the law of the land away from the judges and into the House and Senate with a stacked deck? Is it, perhaps, really the judges that this is all about?

I have also been told that this bill, if passed, would be found unconstitutional. If, however, the enforcement provisions keep the Supreme Court from reviewing it, what has that done to our Constitution?

Faith cannot be legislated; it must be shared.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

CD, (Do you mind if I abbreviate your name?) you asked, "Is it, perhaps, really the judges that this is all about?" I think so. Ever since the Terri Schiavo case, the evangelicals on Christian talk radio have lamented the abuse of office that the federal judges exercise; specifically they mention three cases: the Terri Schiavo case, the ten commandments case in Alabama, and the case of the federal judge who ruled for taking "under God" out of the pledge of allegiance. Federal judges are seen as the enemy of evangelical Christianity. If Congress can pass this act that pretty much removes the power of the courts to place a check on the activities of the legislative branch--well, I'm really scared of what will happen to this country.

Lately, I have been reading about the Dominion Theology movement and wondering how pervasive it really is; this proposal, and the fact that it is even being seriously considered, seems to confirm that the dominionists are indeed a major power in our country. The idea of our country becoming a theocracy is scary indeed even though I am a Christian. As you mentioned, people's interpretation of God's word is different; whose interpretation will we be subject to? Will heresy become a crime, and which group decides what is heresy?

You are absolutely right in what you have mentioned in other posts. We as Christian Democrats need to speak up and let people know that we are sincere in our faith in God and that that faith makes us want to live as much like Jesus as we can--helping those who are less fortunate than ourselves and loving them for, and in spite of, who they are and what they do.

Thanks for keeping us informed.

5/16/2005 4:43 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

JMG - abreviations are fine, great to have your comment. I know little of Dominion Theology: in fact I just went and Googled it. There is a nice summary here:

Scary stuff indeed.

Spread Peace through Love, all.

5/16/2005 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I looked again at the text of this bill; here's my interpretation: If any agent or officer of the federal, state, or local government makes a ruling or performs an action and "acknowledg[es] God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government" as a justification of that ruling or action, the person who is the recipient of that ruling or action has no redress in any federal court, even if the officer of the government is acting in unofficial capacity.

The key phrase here is "to the extent that relief is sought against...." This means--the way I understand it, and I could be very wrong--that any person that is harmed by the actions of the government has no recourse as long as the government has cited God as the source of the action against that person.

Am I reading this right, CD?


5/17/2005 7:29 AM  
Blogger Christian Democrat said...

I don't know, JMG. Perhaps a lawyer could give an opinion when they read this? I have been told by one poster on Slate that this bill has little chance of passing, that it is mostly something to appease the Religious Right in the submission of it, and enrage them when it doesn't pass. But that is someone else's opinion.

5/17/2005 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've read that same opinion elsewhere. Whether it has a chance of passing or not, it's still an indication of the direction this country is headed.

A good reason for Christian democrats to gently profess their faith.

Thanks for your blog; I've enjoyed reading your posts. I hope more people find you and offer their opinions.

5/17/2005 8:56 AM  

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