Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Closer Look at the Iowa State Supreme Court Marriage Ruling

As you likely already know, American liberals are hard at work to cram same-sex marriage down the throats of the American people. By that I mean that, with complete disregard for the will of the people expressed at the polls, and in some locales in direct contradiction of that balloted will, liberals are turning to the judiciary to force same-sex marriage upon the American people. The latest manifestation of that effort was the work of activist judges in Iowa to deny Iowans the right to develop their own system of laws regarding marriage. The Iowa Supreme Court recently legalized same-sex marriage in that state by the dictatorial falling of a gavel.

Have you read the decision? If not, you can do so here.

I would like to point out something particularly offensive about the decision. Although the arguments offered against same-sex marriage were legal in nature, and although religious beliefs were no component whatsoever of the state's case in defense of Iowa law, the court went out of its way to include (starting on page 63) the jurists' theory that religion is the covert cause of opposition to same-sex marriage in a section entitled, "Religious Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage."

This theory of the Iowa Supreme Court is deeply flawed.

First, let me split some rather important logical hairs for you. People arrive at the same position sometimes from different causes. I am opposed to malfeasance for religious reasons. An atheist might equally be opposed to malfeasance, but for reasons other than any religious motivation. Furthermore, the same person might hold a belief for more than one reason. Were the atheist to tell me why he is opposed to malfeasance, I might very well agree that the same reasons (i.e., a pragmatic recognition that malfeasance poisons our system of commercial interactions) also make me oppose malfeasance all the more.

My religious convictions also are sufficient in and of themselves to make me oppose same-sex marriage, but that doesn't mean that the case against same-sex marriage is necessarily a religious one. Consider, for example, the fact that Russia and China—states with strong historical ties to atheism—both forbid any sort of same-sex civil union or marriage. The mere fact that the vast preponderance of human civilizations have come to the same conclusion about same-sex marriage, regardless of their variegated religious makeups, demonstrates soundly that the argument against same-sex marriage is not essentially religious in nature.

Indeed, a rather profound anatomical case exists to keep marriage between a man and a woman.

For the Iowa Supreme Court to include a gratuitous section of dicta aimed at opponents of same-sex marriage who are religious says more about the covert agenda of the Iowa Supreme Court justices than it says about the movement opposing same-sex marriage—these justices wanted to send a harsh message in this ruling to American religious conservatives.

24 comments:

Bart Barber said...

For your further consideration, I offer this excellent article by Matthew J. Franck, visiting fellow at Princeton.

Chris Johnson said...

Brother Bart,

An interesting article concerning nations and their leaders... we would do well to remained resolved to clearly teaching holy matrimony. Hosea warned his nation concerning these same elements.

Hos 4:6-8 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (7) The more they multiplied, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. (8) They feed on the sin of My people And direct their desire toward their iniquity.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

Blessings,
Chris

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: ... liberals are hard at work to cram same-sex marriage down the throats of the American people ... with complete disregard for the will of the people .... bapticus hereticus: Cram? Did not the decision come from an orderly, legal process? Complete disregard? Is it not the duty of this court to evaluate whether or not a law is consistent with its associated Constitution?

Bart Barber said...

BH: Mine is a fair characterization. Consider the situation in California. The people of California passed legislation reserving marriage for heterosexual contexts only. The California judiciary overturned the will of the California people. The people then passed Proposition 8 in rebuttal of California courts. The will of the people was clearly expressed BEFORE liberal activists determined to employ the courts to cram same-sex marriage down the throats of a demonstrably unwilling populace.

Likewise, Franck's article demonstrates the Iowa Supreme Court's disregard for the democratically expressed will of the people of Iowa. Indeed, the fact that Iowans do not support this idea is offered as SUPPORT for the decision within the ruling itself. The case for same-sex marriage, according to the court, merits special protection from the courts by virtue of the very fact that Iowans are unlikely to approve same-sex marriage through the legislative process. Iowans do not want same-sex marriage, so liberal activist judges must cram same-sex marriage down their uncooperative throats

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart, its old, tired, and such a cliché: activist judges. Defined it means 'they' made a ruling that I disagree with, never mind 'they' are charged with making said decisions. As it is the responsibility of the populace to vote on measures brought before it, it is the responsibility of judges to evaluate that which has been voted upon to ensure such is consistent with the people's most basic governing document. Cram and total disregard is a coarseness of rhetoric that typically impedes conversation, although such language may have a cathartic function for those that employ it.

Bart Barber said...

BH: Clichés normally don't survive to achieve cliché status unless they have some basis in reality. These are activist judges simply because (as Franck demonstrates so capably) their ruling took virtually no notice of the actual text of the Iowa Constitution. They wanted same-sex marriage. They had no basis in the governing legal documents to enact it. They enacted it anyway by judicial fiat. That's judicial activism.

On the other hand, the United States Supreme Court has ruled to protect KKK rallies and flag burning protests. I dislike both of these things just as much as I dislike the abomination of homosexual marriage, yet those are not activist decisions by the United States Supreme Court. The Bill of Rights clearly protects political protest.

So, when judges act according to what the governing documents actually say, then they are not activist judges. When they wave around their magic gavels and pull new law out of thin air, then they are activist judges. And yes, this happens occasionally from the right as well as the left. We should have stopped it at Lochner, if not before.

Finally, in addition to the obvious cathartic benefits of "cram" and "total disregard" one must consider that they have lexical import. Iowans and Californians do not want same-sex marriage. They have employed the political process, abiding by our rules of self-governance, to say so clearly. And now, with the will of the people clearly on-record, we have it being overturned by courts.

The people want X. The liberals want Y. The judges enact Y, regardless of the people voting for X.

Just what language describes that accurately, if not the cramming of something down people's uncooperative throats with total disregard for their will?

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: … governing documents actually say, then they are not activist judges ....bapticus hereticus: Governing documents, like scripture, are living documents, and thus invite complex hermeneutical approaches, all having an underlying set of assumptions, in order to reasonably interpret them. Judges, within the norms of accepted judicial practice, bring varied judicial philosophies to the bench and interact with other judges with other philosophies to arrive at decisions that they perceive to be reasonable and sustainable upon appeal. To suggest their goal is to or that their behavior cram/ed a judicial decision down the throats of Americans is as sensitive as one stating you, because of differing theological suppositions, are cramming conservative theology down the throats of your congregation. A bit more respect for your preparation and integrity in preparing lectures and sermons is warranted, as is the work of these judges.


Bart: The people want X. The liberals want Y. The judges enact Y, regardless of the people voting for X.bapticus hereticus: It does not follow that if the liberals want Y and that the decision was Y that the judges were liberal or that they were seeking to appease said group of people. Desiring X and voting for X is not sufficient to justify X. X must be consistent with the founding and living beliefs of the community. These judges, interacting with one another, decided X was not consistent, thus the ruling. Conservatives are not without options. The decision may be appealed and subsequently over-turned. If so, should then liberals perceive the decision to be crammed down their throats from activist judges that overruled other judges responsibly discharging their duties?


Bart: Just what language describes that accurately, if not the cramming of something down people's uncooperative throats with total disregard for their will?bapticus hereticus: How about reasonable people seeking to make reasonable decisions and a process that allows for oversight to ensure the reasonableness of decisions? The messy, slow work of doing democracy in which all voices are heard and respectfully considered?

volfan007 said...

Baptist Heretic,

Crammed-"Liberal Judges making the majority of people do things that they dont want to do."

And, what's worse, they are immoral Judges as well.

David

bapticus hereticus said...

David: Crammed-"Liberal Judges making the majority of people do things that they dont want to do."

bapticus hereticus: So the majority in Iowa are now engaging in homosexual sex?

volfan007 said...

BH,

They are making the people of Iowa accept homosexuality as an acceptable, alternative lifestyle. And, will this not make employers include the "partner" in health benefits, or in some other things? Will this mean that the govt. has to send the surviving "partner" money on the death of the other one? Will this not make it easier for homosexuals to adopt, and thus spread this immoral practice to children? And, who knows what else this could lead to? More divorces and courts at taxpayers expense when the "partners" want to split up and divorce? Maybe you can think of even more things that this will cause?


So, yea, crammed down the Iowa people's throats is a good way to put it.

David

bapticus hereticus said...

David: [1] They are making the people of Iowa accept homosexuality as an acceptable, alternative lifestyle. [2] And, will this not make employers include the "partner" in health benefits, or in some other things? Will this mean that the govt. has to send the surviving "partner" money on the death of the other one? [3] Will this not make it easier for homosexuals to adopt, and thus spread this immoral practice to children? And, who knows what else this could lead to? [4] More divorces and courts at taxpayers expense when the "partners" want to split up and divorce? Maybe you can think of even more things that this will cause?

bapticus hereticus: [1] David, if you lived in Iowa would you accept homosexuality as an acceptable, alternative lifestyle? It does not follow that if something is a legal alternative that one must avail oneself to it or even accept it for oneself. [2] Probably. People that share a life typically benefit from said shared life. You or your spouse do, and such adds stability to one's community. I would think that is a good thing. [3] My guess is that homosexuals are no more or less apt to have sex with underage individuals than heterosexuals. [4] Perhaps homosexuals will have the same divorce rate as heterosexuals, perhaps less, perhaps more, but if Christians had fewer divorces than non-Christians, perhaps Christians might have more standing when pontificating about divorce rates?

volfan007 said...

BH,

You seem to be missing my point in several areas. One thing, when you said,"[3] My guess is that homosexuals are no more or less apt to have sex with underage individuals than heterosexuals." Who said anything about homosexuals having sex with children? I didnt. What I meant was that when homosexuals are allowed to adopt, then that child will grow up believing that having two daddies is ok. It's not ok, but they will grow up thinking that someone having two mommies is alright. That's what I was talking about.

Also, what does how many Christians getting divorces have to with what I was saying about divorce? What I was talking about was the increase in courts and lawyers time and money to handle all the new divorces that will be coming when Adam divorces Steve in Iowa...thus, costing the taxpayers more money.

And, BH, the main point that I was trying to make is that accepting homosexuality as alright and legal leads to a whole lot more than just the Christian Crowd feeling "uncomfortable." And, the people of Iowa will be paying a price for this ruling by liberal judges who are cramming it down thier throats. That's the main point. Iowans did not want this. Judges are making them have it, and Iowans will be paying the pricetag for the judges liberal views...which were crammed down Iowans throats.

David

Bart Barber said...

BH:

1. The scriptures do not become one thing or another based upon our interpretation of them. They mean what God meant by them. We either hit that with interpretation or we do not. One is obedience, the other is error.

The Constitution, on the other hand, is in one sense indeed a living document—it includes within itself the means of its own amendment. But the power to alter the Constitution was wisely placed in the hands of the people and not in the hands of "experts." The Constitution does not even authorize the process of judicial review! Certainly it does not provide for unfettered judicial hogwash in inventing new concepts left unexpressed in the text of the Constitution.

Not all judicial action is worthy of respect, nor is all preaching. Recognizing which is respectable and which is not is an important part of critical thinking, a skill which educators ought to endeavor to cultivate.

Bart Barber said...

The simple facts are these: The published opinion of the Iowa Supreme Court not only asserts that it is appropriate for the court to overrule the will of the people and establish same-sex marriage in Iowa; the Court essentially argues that BECAUSE the people of Iowa don't want same-sex marriage, the Court is OBLIGATED to establish it.

bapticus hereticus said...

David: BH, You seem to be missing my point in several areas. One thing, when you said,"[3] My guess is that homosexuals are no more or less apt to have sex with underage individuals than heterosexuals." Who said anything about homosexuals having sex with children? I didnt. What I meant was that when homosexuals are allowed to adopt, then that child will grow up believing that having two daddies is ok. It's not ok, but they will grow up thinking that someone having two mommies is alright. That's what I was talking about.

bapticus hereticus: David, you stated, "Will this not make it easier for homosexuals to adopt, and thus spread this immoral practice to children?" A plausible interpretation of your syntax was offered. It would have helped if you were a bit clearer in your meaning as you are presently. Secondly, many kids in your congregation have two daddies and two mommies. Are you going to instruct them to obey one daddy and one mommy, but not the respective other? Psychologists are telling us that the important thing is for children to be from a loving, supportive environment. Moreover, I see no evidence that children raised by homosexuals chose said lifestyle at a rate greater than would be expected if raised by heterosexuals.

David: Also, what does how many Christians getting divorces have to with what I was saying about divorce? What I was talking about was the increase in courts and lawyers time and money to handle all the new divorces that will be coming when Adam divorces Steve in Iowa...thus, costing the taxpayers more money.

bapticus hereticus: I would presume homosexuals seeking divorce will do the same as heterosexuals: they will hire an attorney and pay attorney and court fees. Do you think attorneys mind the use of their time when it is compensated? And many have pro-bono requirements as part of their responsibilities. But if it is about potential use of taxpayer monies, perhaps we should disallow fried-chicken and potato salad to the many overweight heterosexual baptists that are underinsured and dependent on tax dollars to fund their care for myocardial infarction rehabilitation, in addition to writing law requiring them to exercise one hour five days a week?

David: And, BH, the main point that I was trying to make is that accepting homosexuality as alright and legal leads to a whole lot more than just the Christian Crowd feeling "uncomfortable." And, the people of Iowa will be paying a price for this ruling by liberal judges who are cramming it down thier throats. That's the main point. Iowans did not want this. Judges are making them have it, and Iowans will be paying the pricetag for the judges liberal views...which were crammed down Iowans throats.

bapticus hereticus: What does it lead to, David?

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: BH: 1. The scriptures do not become one thing or another based upon our interpretation of them. They mean what God meant by them. We either hit that with interpretation or we do not. One is obedience, the other is error.

bapticus hereticus: If scripture is so straightforward and readily means what it means, thus we know what God means/intends, for what purpose did you spend significant time pursuing a Ph.D. in a seminary? Did you ask to substitute classes in scripture, theology, and methods for others less concerned, instead? Secondly, are you ready to assert the end of biblical criticism and theological reflection? I would not think so, even if apparently there are some in the SBC that wish to do just that, e.g., disciples within the camps of the Moherlites and Pattersonites.

Bart: The Constitution, on the other hand, is in one sense indeed a living document—it includes within itself the means of its own amendment. But the power to alter the Constitution was wisely placed in the hands of the people and not in the hands of "experts." The Constitution does not even authorize the process of judicial review! Certainly it does not provide for unfettered judicial hogwash in inventing new concepts left unexpressed in the text of the Constitution.

bapticus hereticus: As I recall, although the biblical canon is pretty well set, tradition and experience being powerful (even if not ultimately so), not all religious groups agree that it must be considered forever closed. And what would happen if an original scriptural document was found that disagreed with our extant documents? I think we know the conclusion in some circles. Nonetheless, responsible biblical criticism, thus subsequent interpretation, is open to revision until we can declare with certainty that reflection has come to an end. Latent constructs support varying manifestations, which when subjected to various theoretical suppositions give us contours to which a phenomena and its boundary conditions may be understood. I would hope judges, whom also are tasked to utilize hermeneutical tools, are more gracious toward your work with such than you are with theirs.

Bart: Not all judicial action is worthy of respect, nor is all preaching. Recognizing which is respectable and which is not is an important part of critical thinking, a skill which educators ought to endeavor to cultivate.

bapticus hereticus: I am not a relativist, thus I agree, and my work with data instructs that they may fit more than one theoretical conceptualization. Responsible decisions which leave us with greater degrees of freedom better enable the health of an entity than those that unnecessarily restrict freedom. Critical thinking is a check against satisficing behavior.

Bart Barber said...

BH: Although the vocabulary is on an entirely different level, at this point our dialogue is starting to boil down to...
"Is not!"
"Is too!"
"Is not!"
"Is too!"

We have very different conceptions of the nature both of the Bible and the Constitution.

Here's hoping for your sake that, whoever interprets the text of whatever contract by which you are employed, that person has some stronger sense of how one might be constrained by the text of a document!

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: Here's hoping for your sake that, whoever interprets the text of whatever contract by which you are employed, that person has some stronger sense of how one might be constrained by the text of a document!

bapticus hereticus: The present is largely determined by the past even if the present is not entirely constrained by it. Reasonable people usually find sufficient common ground when they realize that life is dynamic nonetheless, thus responses to it must be equally so. Such responses breathe life into a community.

Concerning documents. I don't discount what you suggest and I agree concerning responsible interpretation (as seems to be the implied message). Arriving at such usually demands a mixture of science and art; but before we allow things to become fixed beyond its utility, let's keep in mind that the point of decisions is to preserve the generative quality of a people.

Bart Barber said...

BH: The present is largely determined by the past even if the present is not entirely constrained by it. Reasonable people usually find sufficient common ground when they realize that life is dynamic nonetheless, thus responses to it must be equally so. Such responses breathe life into a community.

Bart: And yet this is not precisely the question before us. As I have already stated, the Constitution (Iowan or federal...take your pick) contains within the actual text of the document a design by which these communities may breathe plenty of life and may adapt the Constitution to fit any situation—it is amendable!

The question before us is whether this life-breathing dynamic is best entrusted to a handful of unaccountable jurists or to the actual community…to the populace as a whole.

The text of the Constitution answers that question from the start. Unfortunately, our courts are ignoring that answer.

Bart Barber said...

And I might add, BH, that the same dynamic applies to the ecclesiastic community as well. You rightly note that I preach what I believe to be a sound interpretation of the biblical text that honestly presents its clear meaning. You have struck a comparison between myself in my interpretation of the Bible and the Supreme Court jurists in their interpretations of the Constitution.

Here's where your analogy fails.

In order for my understanding of the Bible to be applied authoritatively within this church community, I must actually CONVINCE the individual members of this church that mine is the correct interpretation of the Bible. The Iowa Supreme Court, on the other hand, can impose an interpretation PRECISELY BECAUSE it is not held by the members of the "community."

bapticus hereticus said...

Bart: The question before us is whether this life-breathing dynamic is best entrusted to a handful of unaccountable jurists or to the actual community…to the populace as a whole.

bapticus hereticus: How are these jurists unaccountable? Are their decisions beyond appeal? If they act with malfeasance can they not be removed from the bench?

Bart: The text of the Constitution answers that question from the start. Unfortunately, our courts are ignoring that answer.

bapticus hereticus: Where in the Constitution does it suggest that judges are beyond accountability?

Bart: And I might add, BH, that the same dynamic applies to the ecclesiastic community as well. You rightly note that I preach what I believe to be a sound interpretation of the biblical text that honestly presents its clear meaning. You have struck a comparison between myself in my interpretation of the Bible and the Supreme Court jurists in their interpretations of the Constitution. Here's where your analogy fails. In order for my understanding of the Bible to be applied authoritatively within this church community, I must actually CONVINCE the individual members of this church that mine is the correct interpretation of the Bible. The Iowa Supreme Court, on the other hand, can impose an interpretation PRECISELY BECAUSE it is not held by the members of the "community."

bapticus hereticus: The comparison I made was that both you and judges employ hermeneutical tools in the interpretation of texts. No more. No less. But I will add that your authority is derived from the body as is the case for the judges, as well. Your position, however, is not about resolving matters of theology, as theirs is about resolving matters of law before them.

Bart Barber said...

BH: Are their decisions beyond appeal?

Yes. That's the meaning of the "Supreme" in the phrase "Supreme Court."

You do rightly note, by the way, that I should have employed the word "unelected" rather than "unaccountable." The United States Constitution does seemingly provide (at least implicitly) for the impeachment of justices. I do not know what the Iowa State Constitution stipulates on that subject.

The impeachment of justices for deliberate misinterpretation of the Constitution being such unplowed ground, however, I think that one could argue for a de facto unaccountability if not a de jure unaccountability.

bapticus hereticus said...

BH: Are their decisions beyond appeal?

Bart: Yes. That's the meaning of the "Supreme" in the phrase "Supreme Court."

bapticus hereticus: The Supreme Court justices are constrained to legal opinion as it arises from the Constitution, but they cannot prevent legally derived changes to the Constitution that would render a previous decision moot and without foundation. In this sense, yes, a decision may be appealed. Our system was designed to allow the people a voice via the checks and balances of a tripartite governmental structure.

Chris said...

Good thoughts here, Dr. Barber.