Justice Scalia, “Learn to Love the Gridlock”

By now you’ve probably heard that Justice Scalia died over the weekend at a west Texas ranch where he’d been visiting.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued this statement:

“Justice Antonin Scalia was a man of God, a patriot, and an unwavering defender of the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. He was the solid rock who turned away so many attempts to depart from and distort the Constitution. His fierce loyalty to the Constitution set an unmatched example, not just for judges and lawyers, but for all Americans. We mourn his passing, and we pray that his successor on the Supreme Court will take his place as a champion for the written Constitution and the Rule of Law. Cecilia and I extend our deepest condolences to his family, and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers.”

Scalia and ReaganAntonin Scalia, R.I.P. — Honor His Legacy as a Foe of Judicial Imperialism by the editors of National Review is both a tribute to Justice Scalia and an editorial about the Court, Obama, and the 2016 presidential election.

“Justice Scalia was a champion of textualism and originalism in the reading of both statutes and the Constitution, and he was the reliable anchor of the Supreme Court’s originalist wing in an era of deep division and conflict with the “living Constitution” approach to jurisprudence that holds down the other wing of the Court…

“…But his abiding contribution was in trying to stem the tide of government by judiciary. When puncturing the pretensions of “levels of scrutiny” or skewering the progressive invention of “rights” to abort the unborn or to change the legal definition of marriage, Scalia was the Great Dissenter of our age.”

The editors also write that, “In constitutional law, Scalia championed the structural features of the separation of powers and federalism.” He discussed this in October 2011 when he appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Considering the Role of Judges Under the Constitution of the United States.

In honor of Justice Scalia, this is a civics lesson to remember,”Learn to love the gridlock.”

Justice SCALIA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee. I am happy to be back in front of the Judiciary Committee where I started this pilgrimage.

“I am going to get even more fundamental than my good friend and colleague. Like him, I speak to students, especially law students but also college students and even high school students, quite frequently about the Constitution because I feel that we are not teaching it very well. I speak to law students from the best law schools, people presumably especially interested in the law, and I ask them: how many of you have read the Federalist papers? Well, a lot of hands will go up. No, not just No. 48 and the big ones. How many of you have read the Federalist Papers cover to cover? Never more than about 5 percent. And that is very sad, especially if you are interested in the Constitution.

“Here is a document that says what the Framers of the Constitution thought they were doing. It is such a profound exposition of political science that it is studied in political science courses in Europe. And yet we have raised a generation of Americans who are not familiar with it.

“So when I speak to these groups, the first point I make—and I think it is even a little more fundamental than the one that Stephen has just put forward—I ask them, what do you think is the reason that America is such a free country? What is it in our Constitution that makes us what we are? And the response I get—and you will get this from almost any American, including the woman that Stephen was talking to at the supermarket—is freedom of speech, freedom of the press, no unreasonable searches and seizures, no quartering of troops in homes, etc.—the marvelous provisions of the Bill of Rights.

“But then I tell them, if you think that the Bill of Rights is what sets us apart, you are crazy. Every banana republic has a bill of rights. Every president for life has a bill of rights. The bill of rights of the former evil empire, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was much better than ours. I mean that literally. It was much better. We guarantee freedom of speech and of the press. Big deal. They guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of street demonstrations and protests, and anyone who is caught trying to suppress criticism of the government will be called to account. Whoa, that is wonderful stuff. Continue reading

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Withstanding The Assault On Marriage

When commenting on events with far reaching consequences, one of my pastors would frequently ask David’s question of Psalm 11, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” He would then answer by saying, “Go on being righteous.” In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling yesterday that struck at the foundations of society by redefining marriage and codifying sin into our nation’s law, this is a question Christians must ask, “What can the righteous do?”

In the Lord I take refuge;
How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain;
For, behold, the wicked bend the bow,
They make ready their arrow upon the string
To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed,
What can the righteous do?”

Derek Kidner writes in his small commentary on the Psalms:

The feverish scene of verses 1-3 [of Psalm 11] is dwarfed by the Lord, whose name here is emphatic and reiterated. This King is in residence, not in flight: His city has ‘foundations’ (cf. Heb. 11:10), therefore the question of verse 3 can be asked without despair…The collapse of what is built on sand may be distressing; it can also be a beginning (Heb. 12:27).

So the first answer as to what the righteous can do is in David’s answer to his question in those very next verses: by looking to God and remembering that He is sovereign. He is our refuge. We can trust Him to execute justice and to keep us through the storm.

The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
And the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain snares;
Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous, He loves righteousness;
The upright will behold His face.

Kidner also provides guidance for two other answers to what the righteous can do. He reminds us that there is a city with a foundation that never crumbles:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:8-10

As the Apostle Paul teaches us, “our citizenship is in heaven“; we are to “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth“; and in 2 Corinthians 4:

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

I found a third answer as to what the righteous can do in Kidner’s reference to foundations on sand. In the passage we call the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus finished his teaching by telling a story of two houses.

Waves Crashing Over The North Pier Tynemouth
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”

When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Matthew 7:24-29

“What can the righteous do?” We are to go on being righteous by remembering God is sovereign and trusting in His punishment of the wicked and His care for us, by remembering that our citizenship is in a lasting city built by God and so setting our minds on the things above, and finally, by hearing and heeding God’s Word and building our lives on the rock that is a foundation that will never crumble .

I have other thoughts and quotes on yesterday’s ruling, but this is where we begin.
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Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72 (Inter-Varsity Press, London: 1973) 73.
Waves crashing over The North Pier, Tynemouth: FreeFoto.com

Affected Justice: SCOTUS & Marriage Arguments

There are a few optimists, but after the hearings on marriage at the Supreme Court most conservatives are having a “Gird your loins,” reaction as we wait for the upcoming decision in late June or early July.

Steve Deace’s evaluation is summarized in his headline: Supreme Court grandstands on marriage by embracing cognitive dissonance, and he begins by pointing out the White Queen logic of SCOTUS if it goes through the looking-glass with marriage:

Supreme CourtTwo years ago, a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled it was a terrible thing for the federal government to dictate the definition of marriage to all 50 states. Despite the fact it was done lawfully via a bill passed through both houses of Congress, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

Two years later, the same five justices who made up that majority are poised to reverse themselves, and say it’s perfectly fine for the federal government to dictate the definition of marriage to all 50 states. Provided it’s done so unlawfully by judicial fiat this time.

As for grandstanding:

Listen, I don’t want to label last week’s Supreme Court hearing on the definition of marriage as nothing but political theater, but there was enough overacting and cheesy dialogue to inspire Michael Bay’s next film.

There’s laying it on thick and then there’s flat-out grandstanding. In this case, the latter was in full effect as the nation’s highest court called upon its fork-tongued spirit animal – who looks conspicuously like Pontius Pilate – for inspiration. The Supreme Court pretended to agonize over an unjust decision that everyone on both sides of the divisive marriage debate knows is coming with metaphysical certitude.

Some have taken remarks by some of the justices at face value, but it’s difficult to believe that the forgotten virtue of humility has suddenly been discovered and embraced. Not only that, but I find it difficult to believe that the justices weren’t aware of the lies and illogical conclusions perpetrated by themselves and by others during the hearings. In Correcting Six Mistakes from the Same-Sex Marriage Oral Arguments Last Week James Phillips points these out:

Error Number One: Massachusetts Marriage Rates Have Stayed the Same…

Error Number Two: Because Some Men Leave Their Wives and Children, Marriage Does Not Help Keep Fathers Around…

Error Number Three: The Purpose of States’ Recognizing and Regulating Marriage is to Bestow Dignity on Couples…

Error Number Four: The Only Harm to Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage Is Making Marriage More Adult-Centered…

Error Number Five: There Is a Parallel between Brown/Loving and Lawrence/Obergefell

Error Number Six: Age Restrictions on Marriage Are Equivalent to the Definitional Element of One Man and One Woman…

Remember, each of these statements is not true. Phillips gives backgrounds and explanations, and I recommend reading his article if you’ve encountered any of this fallacious thinking in conversations.

Robert George gives this solemn warning:

For the Court to strike down laws defining marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife would be to abolish the idea that men and women matter—equally—in the lives of the children they create. And it would be both a judicial usurpation of legislative authority and a federal intrusion into a matter left by the Constitution in the hands of the states.

Despite the solid logic and explanations in the many articles that have been written on natural marriage and its importance to society, it appears that SCOTUS is careening down the path to an egregious decision with devastating consequences. This does not mean, however, that we are not to pray. God is sovereign. Continue to ask for His mercy on our nation. He has had mercy in the past, pray He does again now. In the sidebar I keep several featured posts. If you’ve not read them, I invite you to look back in our nation’s history to other bleak times in “…the acts and choices of ordinary people…” and The American Crisis: November 2012 for the examples set before us by other Americans.

Pray that the Justices will administer true justice according to the Constitution they have sworn to uphold.

Voices For Children: COGs Go To Court

copy-toddler-hopscotch.jpgBless the Beasts and the Children
For in this world they have no voice;
They have no choice.

Bless the Beasts and the Children was the poignant hit song done by The Carpenters in the early 70s. There’s heartbreak in the lyrics over children who are at the mercy of the whims of adults.

For several years now Robert Lopez has been a fierce and constant voice for children. I’ve linked to many of his posts written for English Manif. As one of the self-styled COGs, Children of Gays, he has written on the impact on children who grow up in a same-sex household. Last fall he took many of them down to prepare for the publication of Jephthah’s Daughters: Innocent Casualties in the War for Family Equality, a collection of fifty essays from numerous people describing the fallout on children, on women, on society, on the globe, and on gays. As I read the book, I can tell you it’s raw and tragic reality.

Last fall Lopez was joined by three other COGs in writing amicus briefs for the Fifth Circuit Court in support of natural marriage—marriage between one man and one woman. In the article Adults Raised by Gay Couples Speak Out Against Gay ‘Marriage’ in Federal Court you’ll find quotes from each, but these briefs are must reads because they make such a compelling case on the importance of marriage for children.

The first two briefs are difficult to read because of the horrific abuse and circumstances described by B. N. Klein and Dawn Stefanowicz. Klein grew up with her biological mother and her mother’s various lesbian partners. She co-edited Jephthah’s Daughters, and has written about intimidation and harassment by LGBT activists in Ruthless Misogyny: Janna Darnelle’s Story and Extreme LGBT Activism and This Lesbian’s Daughter Has Had Enough.

Dawn Stefanowicz grew up with her biological father and his various male partners. I heard her describe her life years ago on Focus On The Family. She has written her story in her book, Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting. She was born in Canada, and in her brief discusses the consequences to parents and children in Canada when marriage was redefined there. Last week Public Discourse published her article A Warning from Canada: Same-Sex Marriage Erodes Fundamental Rights. Her website is: http://dawnstefanowicz.org/

Katy Faust and Robert Lopez were not abused and were reared in stable homes. Their briefs focus on the impact of growing up in the absence of a parent of the opposite sex. Lopez grew up with his biological mother and her lesbian partner. I’ve already mentioned some of his writing and his co-editing of Jephthah’s Daughters. You can also find articles by him at numerous places, including American Thinker and at Public Discourse. Lopez has also been active in speaking both in France and within the U.S.

Katy Faust grew up with her biological mother and her mom’s lesbian partner. In her brief she speaks as to why government is involved in marriage in the first place, the rights of children and the impact of redefining marriage on children. She has written Dear Justice Kennedy: An Open Letter from the Child of a Loving Gay Parent and PS, Justice Kennedy: Same-Sex Marriage Isn’t Good for Kids at Public Discourse. She blogs at http://www.askthebigot.com/

All four are active in the International Children’s Rights Institute. Lopez is President and serves on the Academic Council. Edelman and Faust are also on the Academic Council, and all four are on the Testimonial Council.

For the cases heard at SCOTUS this week they were joined by two more COGs, Denise Shick and Heather Barwick to co-author new briefs.

Denise Shick’s father was a homosexual who cross-dressed. She is the author of My Daddy’s Secret, and is also on the Testimonial Council of the ICRI. Her website is: http://help4families.com/ Heather Barwick grew up with her biological mom and her mom’s lesbian partner and was an advocate for same-sex marriage until time, marriage and seeing the interactions between her husband and their children changed her mind on the importance of natural marriage. She recently wrote Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting for The Federalist.

In Katy Faust’s first brief she puts these questions and their inexorable anwers to the court:

As you deliberate on whether or not to redefine marriage into a genderless institution, the primary question is: What is society’s interest in marriage? Is it to validate the emotional bonds of adults? Is it to stabilize partnerships? Is it an instrument with which to give a stamp of equality to our gay brothers and sisters?

…But the reality is that society’s interest in marriage is not an adult-centric one after all. Government’s interest in marriage is children.

…Two rights that every child, EVERY child, shares when they arrive in this world. First, the right to live. Second, the right to have a relationship with his/her father and mother.

With the redefinition of marriage, we are not simply allowing people to form relationships of their choosing….When we institutionalize same-sex marriage however, we move from permitting citizens the freedom to live as they choose, to promoting same-sex headed households. In doing so, we ignore the true nature of the outcropping of marriage. Now we are normalizing a family structure where a child will always be deprived daily of one gender influence and the relationship with at least one natural parent. Our cultural narrative becomes one that, in essence, tells children that they have no right to the natural family structure or their biological parents, but that children simply exist for the satisfaction of adult desires.

If society’s interest in marriage is children, then why are we promoting a family structure where a child would have to be denied a relationship with their mother or father so the adults can have the “family” they desire?…

Or will you possibly recognize that you cannot have it both ways? Truth is, you cannot redefine marriage AND recognize that fathers and mothers are both critical to a child’s rights and children’s flourishing….

…You can either believe that fathers and mothers are valuable and children have a right to both, or, you can redefine marriage to promote a family structure where a father or mother will never be present. Period. When gay couples have “equal access” to the institution of marriage it means that children will not have “equal access” to parents influencing and raising them the way nature intended.

You must either side with adult desires or side with children’s rights. You cannot do both.

These adult children of gays have come forward and made their stories public at great personal cost. They have been hunted and vilified, and are seen as traitors by the LGBT community. They have done so because they want to be a voice for children. I urge you to read what they have to say.

Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the unfortunate.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
Proverbs 31:8–9

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Little boy and girl playing hopscotch together: Ilya Haykinson. CC BY-SA 2.0.

A City Upon A Hill

As I thought about praying for today’s hearing on marriage, I remembered William Bradford’s words of gratitude for the Pilgrims’ arrival in Massachusetts.

May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say:

Mayflower in Plymouth HarborOur faithers were Englishmen which come over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this willdernes; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voyce, and looked on their adversitie, etc. Let them therfore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure for ever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how he hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressour. When they wandered in the deserte willdernes out of the way, and found no citie to dwell in, both hungrie, and thirstie, their sowle was overwhelmed in them. Let them confes before the Lord his loving kindnes, and his wonderfull works before the sons of men.

William Bradford, Of plimouth plantation, 1620

Our nation has a long history of crying out to God in our distress and recognition of His providential hand of blessing, yet recent national calls for prayer have changed. Several years ago I came across an article by Dr. John S. Uebersax, National Days of Prayer: A Historical Comparison, in which he made this significant observation:

Since 1952, the President of the United States has, by law, annually issued a proclamation recommending a National Day of Prayer. This seeks to revive a similar practice that emerged in Revolutionary times, and again in the Civil War. The modern proclamations, however, differ in important ways from the earlier ones. The main difference is evident in the change of titles — from the earlier ‘Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer’ to the modern ‘National Day of Prayer.’ The earlier proclamations emphasized humiliation — understood as including a deep conviction of God’s Providential sovereignty in all things, recognition that calamities may express God’s chastisements, expression of guilt, sorrow for sins, and earnest pledge for reformation.

The first thanksgiving of the Pilgrim Fathers followed a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer. Both days were appointed and set, not by the church, but by their governor. How much more than they, do we as a nation need to turn to God in humiliation and petition. We have grievously sinned against Him.

Look at the Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day signed by Abraham Lincoln on March 30, 1863:

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

This morning I also remembered John Winthrop’s vision for our country and his warning.

…For we must Consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world…

I shall shut up this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. Beloved there is now set before us life and good, Death and evil, in that wee are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his Ordinance and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with him, that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away, so that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship and serve other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perish out of the good land whither we passe over this vast sea to possess it;

Therefore let us choose life
that wee, and our seed
may live, by obeying His
voice and cleaving to Him,
for He is our life and
our prosperity.
John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity, 1630

The monument at the grave of William Bradford has one inscription in Hebrew:

Jehovah is our help

Another in Latin:

What our fathers with so much difficulty secured,
do not basely relinquish

The streets of our City darken. As we pray today for marriage, may we pray in humiliation—with “a deep conviction of God’s Providential sovereignty in all things, recognition that calamities may express God’s chastisements, expression of guilt, sorrow for sins, and earnest pledge for reformation.”
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Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor, William Halsall: PD-US.