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11/04/2010

Church/state[ment]: Evangelicals put much faith in Iowa 'win'

by Jeremy Hooper

The so-called "Iowa For Freedom" crew made a stride towards destroying judicial independence. But it might be religious freedom -- true religious freedom, which includes the right to live and love as an equal citizen of this nation free from others' religious persecution -- that we'll miss the most.

This comes from WorldNetDaily:

Pastor Cary Gordon of Cornerstorne World Outreach in Sioux City was one of the pastors who coordinated a letter to churches asking them to speak out against homosexual "marriage."

He told WND that the letter reminded pastors of their moral obligation to cry out against evil and address arrogance and injustice in the courts.

Hundreds of pastors responded, he said.

"There were Catholics, Methodists, Wesleyans, Baptists; the list just goes on and on. It was humbling to see all those who wanted to do [their] duty," he said.

The message from voters that resulted, the dismissal of the three justices up for retention votes, was "colossal," he said.

"The message is very clear," he said. "The left just doesn't understand their error. The worst talking point they have had throughout this is 'voting no is an abuse of the system.'"

But that's dishonest, he asserted, because the retention vote is part of the system.

"Citizens don't have to give a reason why they vote one way or another" he said. "The problem with the judges, we have remedied this morning."

Voters tell 3 Supreme Court justices: You're fired! [WND]

Uhm, right -- but no. You haven't "remedied" anything, Pastor Gordon. Four of the unanimous seven judges still remain on the court. Plus the three who'll take Ternus, Baker, and Streit's place were trained in the same constitutional law that the ousted jurists followed in the Varnum opinion. So since this IFF effort hasn't changed the reality of equal protection and due process, pastor, you haven't found any faith-based cure for what ails you. Not that the perfectly healthy, perfectly robust notion of judicial fairness is in need of a remedy in the first place.

Oh, and as for the "citizens don't have to give a reason" thing? That's a complete and utter red herring! Because no, of course voters don't have to give reason. But this Iowa For Freedom effort (and Pastor Gordon's own contribution) was all about one, readily admitted reason: Marriages of same-sex couples and certain people's (mostly religious) objections to the same! Without this effort, which told those who oppose gay's marriage that they have a duty to go out and cast a vote against this "degradation of God’s best design for the family," the retention vote would not have even been close. So sorry, Pastor G., but you're not gonna get away with making it sound like this was a free will, non-guided vote of the peeps. It simply wasn't.


Okay, so now let's see what former Alabama judge Roy "homosexuality is an inherent evil against which children must be protected" Moore has to say:

Judge Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who runs the Foundation for Moral Law, told WND that the Iowa justices rejected the will of the people and the law they adopted.

Their removal, he said, "is a tremendously overwhelming message to the rest of the nation, that judges can be held accountable," he said.

"This sends a message. Maybe judges won't be as complacent and as radically activist if they realize people will rise up," he said.
...
Moore noted that Iowa's Defense of Marriage Act, adopted by elected representatives of the people, specified one man and one woman marriages, so the justices actually were violating the law they were sworn to uphold. Moore noted that the original Iowa Constitution forbade "sodomy."

He noted the Iowa court's own opinion stated the justices could "protect constitutional rights … even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted or at one time [were] unimagined."

"What they are saying is that they can give rights to individuals that were at one time unimagined. If that's not judicial activism…" he said. "What's to stop them from letting men marry their own daughters. Brothers marry sisters. A whole village becoming a marriage."

Voters tell 3 Supreme Court justices: You're fired! [WND]

Right, so first off: That "radical activist" claim is pretty damn rich, coming as it does from a man whose entire reputation is defined by evangelical activism. Lest you forget: Moore is the jurist who Alabama's Court of the Judiciary unanimously removed from the bench in '03, after he rejected orders from a federal judge to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse. That was an activist decision.

But moving beyond that past: What is with these conservatives claiming that the Varnum court violated the state DOMA law?! The court REJECTED the state DOMA law! That is a major difference! In fact, it's the rejection of the DOMA law as unconstitutional that defines this matter! And again: It's kinda, sorta, exactly what courts are supposed to do!

And finally: The outright disingenuous way these folks keep presenting Varnum's "unimagined rights" mention. Here, check out what the above above piece leaves out, versus what actually appears in the opinion:

(*Note: Bolded text is what the WND piece quotes)
In fulfilling this mandate under the Iowa Constitution, we look to the past and to precedent. We look backwards, not because citizens’ rights are constrained to those previously recognized, but because historical constitutional principles provide the framework to define our future as we confront the challenges of today.

Our responsibility, however, is to
protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that “times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,” and as our constitution “endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom” and equality. See Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558, 578–79, 123 S. Ct. 2472, 2484, 156 L. Ed. 2d 508, 526 (2003) (acknowledging intent of framers of Federal Constitution that Constitution endure and be interpreted by future generations); Callender v. Skiles, 591 N.W.2d 182, 190 (Iowa 1999) (“Our constitution is not merely tied to tradition, but recognizes the changing nature of society.”).

When individuals invoke the Iowa Constitution’s guarantees of freedom and equality, courts are bound to interpret those guarantees. In carrying out this fundamental and vital role, “we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.” M’Culloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316, 407, 4 L. Ed. 579, 602 (1819). It speaks with principle, as we, in turn, must also. See State v. Wheeler, 34 P.3d 799, 807 (Wash. 2001) (Sanders, J., dissenting).

See what was actually mentioned vs. what was cut? They completely/deliberately skipped over the part about the court protecting rights in the face of "legislative enactments that have denied those rights" (i.e. DOMA). And of course they leave out all of the rest, making it sound as if by "unimagined," the courts mean they can just use their imagination to say whatever the frick they want. Because these social conservatives have a meme to carve, and "the people" vs. the judges is undeniably it.

Any reasoned person of course realizes that the court is saying that the constitution's drafters were not prescient to all that would come after, and therefore modern day concerns must be examined in order "define our future as we confront the challenges of today." And the court made it quite clear that it's constitutional principles that they were relying on to "provide the framework," not some personal logic pulled from their own arses. But this intellectually reductive Iowa For Freedom doesn't want you thinking this way. Their campaign has been about obfuscation from the very beginning. They don't want people actually looking at the Varnum opinion. They certainly don't want citizens looking at any other precedent, especially as that precedent applied to civil rights throughout history. And they of course didn't want Iowa voters looking at any other part of Streit, Baker, or Ternus' lengthy legal careers. Instead, they wanted (and now want, on a national scale) to scare voters into believing that the willy-nilly judges cared so little about their life's work that they chose to become "radical" rogues. Rogues who won't rest until society is "letting men marry their own daughters. Brothers marry sisters. A whole village becoming a marriage."

We who defended the justices said (and continue to say) that 2+2 = 4. They who are denying justice say that same equation equals whatever the hell their personal, faith-based conservatism wants it to be on this particular day. It's really that simple. It's really that simplistic.

***

*SEE ALSO: Our complete Iowa For Freedom Archive

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