Justice Anthony Kennedy
I think Justice Scalia is right on target regarding his comments on the difficulty inherent in judges attempting to apply natural law in this country. Natural law, as a legal concept to be used day to day by judges in the cases before them, only works if people are in agreement on basic morality. Then a law writ by God on the hearts and minds of men and true for all times and true for all places is possible of discernment in application to particular cases. Such a civilization Western Europe enjoyed from around 1000 AD to the time of the Reformation. Our time bears little relationship to that period in history. Now we live in a time of moral chaos, where even the right to life of an unborn child is denied by law. In such a time of moral collapse, giving to judges the power to make determinations based on natural law is simply giving them the power to make it up as they go along, even more than they not infrequently do currently. Bad enough results obtain when judges are supposedly bound by the text of written constitutions. Give them a warrant to use something as vague and amorphous as natural law, and the results are completely predictable. Continue reading
Fred Biery, a Bill Clinton appointee, is a Federal District Judge down in Texas. In order to satisfy two village atheist parents of a student who contend that their 18 year old “child” will be irreparably damaged if any prayer escapes any lips during his high school commencement ceremony, Biery has banned all prayer at the high school commencement of the Medina Valley Independent School District on Saturday. This includes the Judge censoring the speech of the valedictorian of the graduating class, Angela Hildebrand, a Catholic, who wished to say a prayer in her speech.
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by Christa and Danny Schultz. Their son is among those scheduled to participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony. The judge declared that the Schultz family and their son would “suffer irreparable harm” if anyone prayed at the ceremony.
“Part of this goes to the very heart of the unraveling of moral values in this country,” Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told Fox News Radio, saying the judge wanted to turn school administrators into “speech police.”
I’ve never seen such a restriction on speech issued by a court or the government,” Abbott told Fox News Radio. “It seems like a trampling of the First Amendment rather than protecting the First Amendment.”
Judge Biery’s ruling banned students and other speakers from using religious language in their speeches. Among the banned words or phrases are: “join in prayer,” “bow their heads,” “amen,” and “prayer.”
Should a student violate the order, school district officials could find themselves in legal trouble. Judge Biery ordered that his ruling be “enforced by incarceration or other sanctions for contempt of Court if not obeyed by District official (sic) and their agents.”
The Texas attorney general called the ruling unconstitutional and a blatant attack from those who do not believe in God — “attempts by atheists and agnostics to use courts to eliminate from the public landscape any and all references to God whatsoever.”
“This is the challenge we are dealing with here,” he said. “(It’s) an ongoing attempt to purge God from the public setting while at the same time demanding from the courts an increased yielding to all things atheist and agnostic.”