Saturday, February 5, 2011

Courts must rule from the Constitution and not religion

What many of us mean when we say freedom of religion is really freedom of our religion at the exclusion of others.

An Ohio judge hung the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the court house where he presides. Alongside the Ten Commandments was a statement, that he said, was attributed to “humanist” view of the rule of law. (It does need to be noted here that the humanists views were not from a “humanists”. They were his own interpretation of the humanist view point. Needless to say, perhaps, they were not flattering.) The judge argued that it was a freedom of speech issue because he was making a comparison between his religious beliefs and those that do not believe in a god. He claimed that his action is protected under the First Amendment.

Members of the community objected and took him to court. They did this since they owned the court house in union with others in the community and not the judge. By the judge hanging a display expressing his own religious beliefs and not that of the overall community, he didn’t express the community’s overall view of religion.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was a display of a religious document. The court ordered that he take down the display.

The audacity of the judge is remarkable. What the Ohio judge was doing was excluding all other religions in the community from expressing their own views in the same manor. He also insulted some in the community, the humanist, with his negative interpretation of their view. He was doing this because he thought he owned the court house and could do as he pleased. But the truth is, everyone in the community owns an equal share of the court house. They also pay the judge’s wages in equal share. His actions should reflect the will of the entire community and not exclude anyone because of his or her religious beliefs.

Freedom of religion doesn’t mean that you can use the resources of other community members to practice your faith. It means that on your own, or in association with a private group, you can worship, express, gather and in other ways exercise your religion.

This most likely took place in a predominantly Christian area of the country. What if the judge was Muslim and in a part of the country that is predominantly Islam? What if he wanted to hang the a list of the five pillars of Islam in the lobby of the court house and compare it to Judaism in a negative way. Events in some parts of the country already have an answer to that question. In Oklahoma, they passed a voter initiative that doesn’t allow courts to use Sharia Law as a basis for decisions. Sharia Law is the primary basis of law that guides most Muslims. Courts in Oklahoma can only use Constitutional law in harmony with state law.

It is proper that Constitutional law be the only law for any court in the United States follow. It should be used worldwide. We should not use Muslim, Christian or Judaism as a factor in decided cases. There are many legal issues in Constitutional law that are in conflict with Christianity, Islamic and Judeo law. But, courts and their judges, specifically the judge in Ohio, must be blind to the faith of the individual that is in front of them. They must adhere to the law of the Constitution in all of his or her rulings.

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Right idea, wrong target

The Republicans in congress would like more aggressive workplace raids to find undocumented workers. That is one the steps to solve the illegal immigration problem that The Responsible Community supports. (End illegal immigration in five steps) But, those they want targeted in the raids will make a political statement and do little to solve the overall problem. 

Under the Obama administration, work place raids in search of undocumented workers have reached new heights. Republicans, with their new majority in the house, are pressing for even more raids. But, they want the raids to seek out undocumented workers to send them back to their country of origin. They aren’t suggesting that the employers of those raids be punished. But, if the raids would focus on the employers, there would be very few undocumented workers taking jobs away from legal workers.

Raids should be conducted to enforce employment law. This must be done on the national level, not the state or local level. Unless every employer understands the risk they take when they use undocumented workers, they will make mistakes at the very least and ignore laws on the most flagrant level.

If raids are focused just on the workers to send them back, then it will be a political statement that will be a mere inconvenience to employers. Perhaps winning votes for the “get tough” Republicans, but doing little to stop the problem. If undocumented workers can’t get a job, they won’t come to the country seeking work.

Let’s have more raids. But, the focus of the raids should be on the employers.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Governor Synder, please consider this

Arizona and Missouri have a good idea, but it only goes half way. Michigan would be smart to do the same thing only complete the job.

Since November of 2009 Arizona has required that welfare recipients not use drugs. If they do, they will lose their benefits. The state uses a survey of the applicants, as well as police and court records, to determine if someone should be tested. Since the start, only 16 have been identified. Eventually, one of the 16 was tested for drug use and denied benefits.

Missouri would like to do the same thing and legislation to allow it to do so was passed last week.

Michigan should go even farther. The Arizona and Missouri laws, for the most part, use “surveys” to determine if someone may be using drugs while accepting benefits. Michigan should make it mandatory as part of the application process and do random checks during the remaining time they are accepting benefits. The random tests should be at a scale that everyone will be checked at least once a month.

If someone is found to be using any illegal drugs, not only should they stop receiving benefits but they should then be ordered to attend a drug rehab program.

A community needs to take responsibility for those that may be unemployed for an extended period of time. But that doesn’t mean that the recipient should not take responsibility also. As in a post on this blog, Require a return on investment from unemployment, this should be a part of the overall requirements that both helps people become self sufficient and asks for a return from the benefits they are receiving.

Government Synder, please consider what they are doing in Arizona and Missouri.

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