Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A positive thing, should the SCOTUS same-sex marriage decision go against us

Marriage and family

Marriage and family

I am looking forward to something if the Supreme Court decides to redefine marriage to remove the complementary genders.

This USA Today article from Michael Farris, head of the HSLDA, hints at it.

He writes:

Justice Alito posed a predictable, but revealing question to Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Jr., in the recent Supreme Court same-sex marriage oral argument: “In the Bob Jones case, the court held that a college was not entitled to tax exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?”

Verrilli replied that he would need to know more specifics, but allowed that “it’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that.”

The solicitor general’s answer should have been and probably was practiced. The question was unlikely to have surprised Verrilli, especially with the kind of preparation undertaken by the highest appellate lawyer for the United States in such high stakes situations. Such preparations would include multiple moot courts, simulated arguments with various lawyers playing the roles of each of the members of the Supreme Court trying to ask as many questions as possible.

As an appellate litigator and the coach of eight collegiate national moot court championship teams, I understand the goal of such preparation. You never want to hear a question from the bench that you have not thought about ahead of time.

Alito’s question was premised on the Bob Jones University case from 1983 in which the IRS revoked the school’s tax exempt status because of its policies on interracial dating and marriage. BJU defended on the basis of the free exercise of religion. The Supreme Court rejected their defense holding that the government’s goal of eradicating racial discrimination in marriage was more important than BJU’s religious rights.

So, the follow-up question from Alito’s question is obvious: If the court rules in favor of same sex marriage, how can religious colleges that refuse to acknowledge such unions avoid BJU’s fate?

No one should think that IRS implications will stop with colleges. Religious high schools, grade schools and any other religious institution will face the same outcome. And this includes churches.

All of these entities are exempt from taxation under the same section of the IRS code. And even though churches can be exempt without application, their exemption can nonetheless be revoked.

Even if it takes the IRS years to begin the enforcement proceedings against such institutions, we can expect other fallout from this decision to begin shortly after the release of the Supreme Court’s opinion.

Colleges and universities that receive federal funding will be coerced into immediate compliance. Accreditation agencies will ratchet up their bullying of Christian institutions, as has already been done against Gordon College in Massachusetts. Threats to accreditation are fatal. Colleges may not legally operate in several stateswithout it.

Christian colleges and churches need to get prepared. We must decide which is more important to us — our tax exemption or our religious convictions. Keep in mind, it is not the idea that the college itself might have to pay taxes that is the threat. Schools like Patrick Henry College, which I started, never run much of a profit. But since PHC refuses all government aid, all of our donations for scholarships and buildings come from tax deductible gifts. Cutting off that stream of revenue is effectively the end of such colleges absent a team of donors who simply don’t care if gifts are deductible.

A slogan of the American Revolution, “We have no King but Jesus” may well be overturned by a 5 to 4 decision of the Supreme Court near the end of June.

Now here’s what I want to see.

I have spent a lot of my life in church, youth groups, campus Christian groups (not talking about Ratio Christi of course) and around happy-clappy Christians who focused on feelings and being accepted. In my current church, issues like abortion and same-sex marriage have never been discussed, much less economics and foreign policy. The leaders of the church are very pious Calvinists who struggle with the idea that they should discuss anything. It probably has something to do with losing the money they get from having a tax-exempt status, but they couch it in piety when they explain to us why we are getting a gospel sermon for the millionth time in a row.

Well, now. I think that if we lose this same-sex marriage case in the Supreme Court, one of the wonderful things that will happen is that these pious churchy ministers will at last be confronted with the mistake they made by giving away the culture to the secularists. At last, all the decades of anti-intellectualism and feminization will hit them right where it hurts – in their pocketbooks. And there will be no denying that they made a terrible mistake in trying to make church solely about praise hymns, devotions and Bible study then. There is a price to pay for focusing on good feelings and comfort, and the churchy pastors are about to find out what it is.

Maybe the Sunday after the decision, the pastors in my church might actually talk to us about the good secular arguments and sociological evidence that there is in favor of traditional marriage. Hey, we might even get a sermon on the evils of divorce, with more arguments and evidence to support the Bible’s position on that issue. Maybe even a sermon on the sexual revolution and premarital sex, that pairs what the Bible teaches with secular arguments and secular evidence that can be used by the flock to make an impact with non-Christians in the culture. Money has a wonderful way of focusing the minds of the most pious of pastors.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , ,

New study: unborn babies are viable at 22 weeks

Unborn Baby - 10 weeks old

Unborn baby – 10 weeks old

This story appeared in the radically leftist New York Times, of all places.

It says:

A small number of very premature babies are surviving earlier outside the womb than doctors once thought possible, a new study has documented, raising questions about how aggressively they should be treated and posing implications for the debate about abortion.

[…]The study, one of the largest and most systematic examinations of care for very premature infants, found that hospitals with sophisticated neonatal units varied widely in their approach to 22-week-olds, ranging from a few that offer no active medical treatment to a handful that assertively treat most cases with measures like ventilation, intubation and surfactant to improve the functioning of babies’ lungs.

[…]The study, involving nearly 5,000 babies born between 22 and 27 weeks gestation, found that 22-week-old babies did not survive without medical intervention. In the 78 cases where active treatment was given, 18 survived, and by the time they were young toddlers, seven of those did not have moderate or severe impairments. Six had serious problems such as blindness, deafness or severe cerebral palsy.

Of the 755 born at 23 weeks, treatment was given to 542. About a third of those survived, and about half of the survivors had no significant problems.

You can double-check the details of the study.

Meanwhile, in Congress, the Republicans are getting ready to reintroduce a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks.

Excerpt:

Republicans in the House of Representatives will hold a vote on or around the anniversary of the murder conviction of late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell on a marquee bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy because unborn children feel intense pain in abortions. This is the second time Republicans have planned a vote on the major pro-life bill — and this vote is expected to take place next week, possibly Wednesday, the anniversary of Gosnell’s conviction.

[…]As pro-life sources have informed LifeNews, other new provisions of the bill that strengthen in include a born-alive infant protection requirement that requires a second doctor be present and prepared to provide  care to the child if he or she is born alive and that the child must receive the same level of care as would any other premature infant. The baby must then be transported and admitted to a hospital.  The woman is also empowered with a right to sue if the law is not followed, and is provided with an informed consent form that notifies her of the age of her baby and the requirements under the law.

Abortionists are explicitly required to follow state mandatory reporting laws and state parental involvement laws.  Finally, abortionists are required to report any late abortions done under the exceptions to the Center for Disease Control and such data will be compiled into an annual public report to ensure accountability.

This bill doesn’t go all the way to banning all abortions – far from it. But pro-life groups are pleased, because they want to save some lives even if they can’t save all:

Top pro-life advocates are strongly supporting the final version of the bill up for a vote next week, according to the Weekly Standard. Two major pro-life groups have already signed off on the revised bill.

“We will have even stronger support than we did in the last Congress,” said Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, a leading pro-life advocate in the House. “It will be good to have a truly unified pro-life conference.”

National Right to Life Committee president Carol Tobias worked closely with Republican leadership staff members and met Thursday with McCarthy. “I felt very comfortable working with leadership staff,” said Tobias. “We were working as allies.”

“We are thankful to our pro-life allies on the Hill, including House GOP leadership and the Congressional Pro-Life Women’s Caucus, who have tirelessly worked to bring this bill to a vote,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. “This process has yielded a strong bill which we expect to pass next week with enthusiastic bipartisan support.”

Sponsoring Congressman Trent Franks of Arizona says the bill has the potential to save thousands of babies from abortion.

That bill is, of course, opposed by Democrats.

UPDATE: Here’s a news story about a woman who killed a 20-week-old baby who was born alive and left to die.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , ,

Do Supreme Court justices understand the reasons for traditional marriage?

This article from the Public Discourse takes a look at the oral arguments from the same-sex marriage case in progress at the Supreme Court.

Here’s the list:

  • 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

One of Obama’s Supreme Court picks is showing herself a poor thinker:

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

Justice Sotomayor also committed what is commonly referred to as an exception fallacy. This is where someone reaches an overall conclusion about a group on the basis of a few exceptional cases. Thus, when Mr. Bursch was making the argument that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples will disconnect marriage from the long-held norm that the institution binds children to their biological mother and father, Justice Sotomayor responded:

Marriage doesn’t do that on any level. How many married couples do fathers with the benefits or the requirements of marriage walk away from their children? So it’s not that the institution alone does it and that without it that father is going to stay in marriage. He made a choice . . . Some mothers do the same thing.

This is a classic example of the exception fallacy. Of course some men and women walk away from their marriage and their children. But that is the exception, not the rule, and it is certainly counter to the social norm of marriage that gently pushes parents to stay together and raise their children.

It is rather shocking that a justice of the United States Supreme Court would claim that “on any level” marriage does not have that effect and longstanding purpose. It is also disappointing that she would commit such a basic error of logic.

I often encounter the problem among people with no math background. You cite statistics about what outcomes are expected, and they reply with an exceptional outlier to refute the argument. I’m troubled that Supreme Court justices lack the ability to reason in this way, though.

Here’s another pretty obvious mistake:

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

Several justices struggled to see how redefining marriage in genderless terms would cause any harm or have any impact on the institution of marriage. As Mr. Bursch correctly but incompletely argued, legalizing same-sex marriage will alter the institution to be primarily concerned with fulfilling the desires of adults rather than the needs of children.

But that’s not all. As the 100 Scholars of Marriage made clear in their amicus brief, several other important and beneficial social norms will be eroded, if not erased, by same-sex marriage, including:

– Gender-diverse parenting: the norm that children both need and deserve to be raised by a man and a woman, not only because of what they learn from interacting with a parent of each sex, but because men and women parent and interact with their children differently, providing distinct but complementary benefits. By its very structure, same-sex marriage eliminates this norm and its attendant benefits to children.

– Biological bonding: the norm that marriage binds children to their biological mother and father in a family unit. Same-sex marriage and parenting, by definition, means that at best only one of a child’s biological parents will be in the home. While death, divorce, or parental delinquency create exceptions, elevating the exception to the norm undermines that norm and the benefits it produces.

– Postponing or channeling procreation: the norm that procreation should only responsibly occur within the stable bonds of marriage. Same-sex marriage is not, and biologically cannot be, about procreation. By redefining marriage in this way, the institution becomes less about being the socially recommended “place” and “time” where procreation is recommended.

– Placing social value on raising children: the norm that society values and needs children to be born and raised by their parents. Again, same-sex marriage is not primarily about procreation, and its acceptance attenuates this norm for the institution as a whole. Of course, same-sex couples can adopt or one member of the couple can reproduce with someone of the opposite sex, but these are secondary purposes and behaviors.

What impact will the weakening or elimination of these norms have on the institution of marriage, and thus the behavior of society? Put another way, as Justice Breyer asked, “what’s the empirical connection?”

Well, the last major alteration to the institution of marriage—no-fault divorce—did have unintended negative consequences, reducing marriage rates and increasing divorce rates more than expected, with children and women suffering the consequences. Additionally, the Netherlands, the country that has had same-sex marriage the longest, after controlling for other factors, has experienced a drop in opposite-sex marriage rates among young women after adopting same-sex marriage.

The truth is, no one knows for sure what the effect will be—but it clashes with history, common sense, and theory to assume it will be innocuous.

The norm of gender-diverse parenting is important, because fathers and mothers are both needed.

Look at this abstract from a very new study to see why:

The association between family structure instability and children’s life chances is well documented, with children reared in stable, two-parent families experiencing more favorable outcomes than children in other family arrangements. This study examines father household entrances and exits, distinguishing between the entrance of a biological father and a social father and testing for interactions between family structure instability and children’s age, gender, and genetic characteristics. Using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study and focusing on changes in family structure by age (years 0–9), the authors show that father exits are associated with increases in children’s antisocial behavior, a strong predictor of health and well-being in adulthood. The pattern for father entrances is more complicated, with entrances for the biological father being associated with lower antisocial behavior among boys and social father entrances being associated with higher antisocial behavior. Child’s age does not moderate the association; however, genetic information in the models sharpens the findings substantially.

Biological fathers need to present in the home.

It doesn’t look like we will get a good legal decision on this case. The leftist judges are just not thinking clearly.

Filed under: News, , , , ,

Ryan T. Anderson: background on the same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court

This Daily Signal article is a great summary of everything that a lay-person like me or you ought to know about the case that is going to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Here are a few of the points I thought were most interesting:

2. The overarching question before the Supreme Court is not whether a male–female marriage policy is the best, but only whether it is allowed by the Constitution. The question is not whether government-recognized same-sex marriage is good or bad policy, but only whether it is required by the Constitution.

Those suing to overturn male-female marriage laws thus have to prove that the man–woman marriage policy that has existed in the United States throughout our entire history is prohibited by the Constitution. They cannot successfully so argue.

3. As Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito pointed out two years ago, there are two different visions of what marriage is on offer. One view of marriage sees it as primarily about consenting adult romance and care-giving. Another view of marriage sees it as a union of man and woman—husband and wife—so that children would have moms and dads.

Our Constitution is silent on which of these visions is correct, so We the People have constitutional authority to make marriage policy.

The debate over whether to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships is unlike the debate over interracial marriage. Race has absolutely nothing to do with marriage, and there were no reasonable arguments ever suggesting it did.

Laws that banned interracial marriage were unconstitutional and the Court was right to strike them down. But laws that define marriage as the union of a man and woman are constitutional, and the Court shouldn’t strike them down.

4. The only way the Court could strike down state laws that define marriage as the union of husband and wife is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless institution based primarily on the emotional needs of adults and then declare that the Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way.

Equal protection alone is not enough. To strike down marriage laws, the Court would need to say that the vision of marriage that our law has long applied equally is just wrong: that the Constitution requires a different vision entirely.

But the Constitution does not require a new vision of marriage.

Advocates for the judicial redefinition of marriage cannot reasonably appeal to the authority of Windsor, to the text or original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment, to the fundamental rights protected by the Due Process Clause, or to Loving v. Virginia. So, too, one cannot properly appeal to the Equal Protection Clause or to animus or Lawrence v. Texas.

Nor can one say that gays and lesbians are politically powerless, so one cannot claim they are a suspect class. Nor can one say that male–female marriage laws lack a rational basis or that they do not serve a compelling state interest in a narrowly tailored way, as explained in Heritage Foundation legal memorandum “Memo to Supreme Court: State Marriage Laws Are Constitutional.”

7. Redefining marriage to make it a genderless institution fundamentally changes marriage: It makes the relationship more about the desires of adults than the needs—or rights—of children. It teaches that mothers and fathers are interchangeable.

I think that’s the fundamental question in the marriage debate. The question is, is marriage a relationship that is geared towards producing children, and locking in husbands and wives together in an exclusive, permanent relationship so that those children have two people who are biologically-related to them who are nearby to watch over them and care for them. When I think about what it is like to be a little child, or even a little animal, it is obvious to me that we should be aggressive about encouraging and celebrating couples who have children and then stick together to raise them. It’s a hard, self-sacrificial job. It’s not about self-centered hedonism. It’s about doing the right thing to provide for the needs of children as they grow up. Marriage isn’t about grown-ups being happy, it’s about regulating sex for the benefit of children, and society as a whole. We do better together as a society with natural marriage.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , ,

Supreme Court rules in favor of religious liberty and against labor unions

Life News first, on the Hobby Lobby religious liberty vs abortion subsidies case.

Excerpt:

The Supreme Court ruled today that the Christian-run Hobby Lobby doesn’t have to obey the HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare that requires businesses to pay for abortion causing drugs in their employee health care plans.

The Obama administration was attempting to make Hobby Lobby and thousands of pro-life businesses and organizations comply with the HHS mandate that compels religious companies to pay for birth control and abortion-causing drugs for their employees. However, the U.S. Supreme Court today issued a favorable ruling in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., a landmark case addressing the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of business owners to operate their family companies without violating their deeply held religious convictions.

Writing for the 5-4 majority, Justice Samuel Alito handed down the decision for the high court, saying, “The Supreme Court holds government can’t require closely held corporations with religious owners to provide contraception coverage.”

The court ruled that the contraception mandate violated the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, a 1993 law and it held that the mandate “substantially burdens the exercise of religion” and that HHS didn’t use the “least restrictive means” to promote this government interest, tests required by RFRA.

“HHS’s contraception mandate substantially burdens the exercise of religion,” the decision reads, adding that the “decision concerns only the contraceptive mandate and should not be understood to mean that all insurance mandates.” The opinion said the “plain terms of Religious Freedom Restoration Act” are “perfectly clear.”

“If the owners comply with the HHS mandate, they believe they will be facilitating abortions, and if they do not comply, they will pay a very heavy price — as much as $1.3 million per day, or about $475 million per year, in the case of one of the companies,” the opinion reads. “If these consequences do not amount to a substantial burden, it is hard to see what would.”

[…]The Hobby Lobby decision only applies to companies, including Conestoga Wood Specialties, which had a companion case pending before the Supreme Court. Non-profit groups like Priests for Life and Little Sisters are still waiting for a ruling about their right to opt out of the mandate.

[…]Americans “don’t give up their rights to religious freedom just because they open a family-run business,” Lori Windham, senior counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which represented Hobby Lobby. This is a landmark decision for religious freedom. The Supreme Court recognized that Americans do not lose their religious freedom when they run a family business.”

Barbara Green, co-founder of Hobby Lobby, also responded: “Our family is overjoyed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Today the nation’s highest court has re-affirmed the vital importance of religious liberty as one of our country’s founding principles. The Court’s decision is a victory, not just for our family business, but for all who seek to live out their faith. We are grateful to God and to those who have supported us on this difficult journey.”

You can read the reactions from people on the left on Twitter, in which they threaten to burn Hobby Lobby stores to the ground. Note that Hobby Lobby is only objecting to covering 4 out of 20 prescribed contraceptives required by Obamacare, just the ones that can cause abortions. They don’t want to pay money to other people to make it cheaper for them to kill unborn children. Makes sense, right? Not to the left.

And now the second decision, which was reported on in the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Home-based care workers in Illinois aren’t full-fledged public employees so they can’t be forced to pay dues to a union they don’t want to join, a divided Supreme Court said. But the limited ruling stopped short of barring organized labor from collecting fees from government workers who object to union representation.

The court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, said the aides weren’t full public employees even though they are paid by the state with Medicaid funds. Because of that status, the workers—often family members of the disabled—couldn’t be required to pay what are known as agency fees to a public-sector union that provides them representation.

Justice Alito said requiring mandatory union fees violated the First Amendment rights of aides who didn’t want to join or support the union. Monday’s ruling split along ideological lines, with conservative justices in the majority and liberal justices in the dissent.

The high court avoided the broadest possible ruling in the case, declining a request by the challengers to limit the ability of public-sector unions to collect fees from all workers who decline to join labor unions. Labor lawyers said that while unions dodged that bullet in Monday’s ruling, they may not be able to in the future. The ruling “sets the table for more challenges to agency fees down the road. And this fact will not make unions sleep any easier,” said Michael Lotito, a labor lawyer at Littler Mendelson P.C.

[…]The National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, an antiunion group in Springfield, Va., sued on behalf of eight Medicaid-paid aides, some of whom are covered by the SEIU agreement, saying the Illinois arrangement had forced parents and other relatives taking care of disabled people into union associations they didn’t want. The foundation said Monday’s ruling would free “thousands of home-care providers from unwanted union control.”

And lastly, somehow I missed a third good Supreme Court decision, which unanimously sided with the the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list. That decision came out in mid-June.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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