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View Diary: The Court's Catholic Conservatives and DOMA (10 comments)

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  •  Supreme Court decisions are not supposed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pirogue, VClib

    to send a message to believers in a certain religion about their religious beliefs.  

    I agree with you that it might have been possible for a conservative to vote to overturn DOMA on a federalism basis, i.e., the notion that marriage is something left to the states and that the federal government had no business mandating how states could, or could not, define marriage as a legal matter.

    But I would have been extremely concerned if any member of the SCOTUS used the case to "send a message to religious conservatives" about their religious values.  That is exactly what the First Amendment is supposed to prevent.  Government -- not the President, not Congress, and not the SCOTUS -- is not supposed to "send a message" to any religion about the validity of their religious beliefs, or even the validity of their decision not to be religious.  The First Amendment was adopted to guarantee that the government would not tell a particular religion that their religious beliefs are either "good" or "bad."  

    •  I think the diarist (0+ / 0-)

      meant to "send a message" in the sense of setting a example, in this case showing that there are broader principles to be served that should trump an unswerving adherence to a set of rigid doctrines.  

      This is not a violation of either the spirit or letter of the Constitution, or indeed the basic principles of human rights, in that there is no explicit or direct use of the authority of the office in order to advance the cause of a particular religious belief or approach. Had it been an explicit statement outlining how to practice or interpret a given set of beliefs then a line would be crossed, but I don't think that is what the diarist was calling for.

      Having said this it seems appropriate to add that the hope for it happening are slim to none given the mindset of the conserative wing of the Supreme Court.

      The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

      by Pirogue on Sat Jun 29, 2013 at 06:57:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even this message is completely inappropriate (0+ / 0-)
        meant to "send a message" in the sense of setting a example, in this case showing that there are broader principles to be served that should trump an unswerving adherence to a set of rigid doctrines.  
        What you are saying is that the Court should have sent a message that the principle you believe in (marriage equality) "should trump" their religious beliefs.  

        The SCOTUS is not in the business of telling religions that one principle or another "should trump" their religious beliefs. That would be contrary to the most basic principles of the First Amendment.  The SCOTUS is in the business of saying what the federal government has the power to do under the Constitution.  

        The Holding of the SCOTUS was that the federal government did not constitutionally have the power to tell states that they could not define marriage in a way the states saw fit.  If the states chose to legalize same sex marriage, the federal government cannot constitutionally treat differently, and treat as illegitimate, marriages that are all equally valid under the law of a state.

        It is not about sending any message whatsoever about what principles should trump particular religious beliefs.  

        •  Sorry for the delay in replying. (0+ / 0-)

          The principle that I am referring to is the very one that would be invoked by Supreme Court members who are against same-sex marriage but who vote to strike down DOMA. It is the principle that your personal religious beliefs do not dictate how you interpret the Constitution. By following this principle they set an example ("sent a message") that this principle should outweigh an impulse to rule entirely in accordance with the narrow dictates of a person's religious impulses.

          Indeed, by not adhering to the stated principle and by voting to uphold DOMA the right wing of the Court could be seen to have sent exactly the opposite message, ie. that it is permissible to allow personal religious beliefs to dictate one's approach to Constitutional interpretation.

          Allowing Constitional principles to hold sway does send a message (sets an example) but not one that deals with any of the particulars of religious interpretation. The "message" is no more than subscribing to the broad idea that in a civil society people do not impose their religious beliefs on others, especially not by legal means.

          The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

          by Pirogue on Sun Jun 30, 2013 at 07:19:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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