American Bar Association Considering to Support Same Sex Marriage

Wednesday, July 14, AD 2010

The American Bar Association will be considering supporting same-sex marriage at their next meeting in San Francisco.

It urges state, territorial and tribal governments to eliminate laws restricting marriage between same-sex partners.

Supporters say the adoption of the measure would build on past ABA policies supporting protections for gay couples and their families. The House of Delegates in 2004 approved a recommendation opposing efforts to enact federal legislation preventing states from allowing same-sex marriage. “Everyone who worked on it is hopeful,” said Michele Kahn, a partner at Kahn & Goldberg who chairs a New York State Bar committee on gay rights. The State Bar in June 2009 came out in support of same-sex marriage, dropping its support of civil unions or domestic partnerships as alternative measures.

Kahn said so far no formal opposition has come forward against the measure.

What I find amazing is that there is no formal opposition.

I know a lot of pro-life and practicing Christian lawyers, how can this be?

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17 Responses to American Bar Association Considering to Support Same Sex Marriage

  • There are a lot of pro-life doctors, too, yet the AMA and the ACOG are officially pro-abortion. There are pro-life teachers, but nobody would ever know that if the NEA were the only voice of that profession.

    It’s not about what the average professional wants. It’s about who is in power.

  • There may well be formal opposition to this within the legal profession, but it may not be widely known.

  • You’d be surprised by how many pro-lifers are for gay marriage, especially among the young. I think polls bear that out. I’d suspect that there are more among lawyers. Today, even pro-choice lawyers will concede that Roe v. Wade was a weak decision. The legal case for gay marriage may be stronger. The government interest in preventing abortion is stronger than in banning gay marriage. If you separate procreation from marriage as we have done in the US, there’s little reason to ban gay marriage.

  • Lawyers aren’t required to be members of the ABA to practice. So I oppose this kind of stuff the ABA does by simply not joining it.

  • I’m a member of the ABA but haven’t a clue how to express “organized opposition.”

    The ABA isn’t like the K of C. There aren’t any local monthly meetings in which policy is discussed. Instead, you are regularly invited to events like meet-and-greats or seminars – all useful to an aspiring lawyer but not a venue for expressing discontent with ABA support of particular political or social issues.

    In other words, her statement seems to me to be a misrepresentation since it presumes that there is a venue for such discussion – that ABA members are asked whether they support same sex marriage policies or not. This simply isn’t so.

  • The ABA is a completely voluntary association. About 29% of all American attorneys are members. I have never belonged simply because the ABA, like most professional associations in this country, has long been dominated by leftist activist members.

    http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2009/03/obama-brings-aba-back-inside-judicial-nominations-process.html

    http://volokh.com/posts/1237317675.shtml

    A good alternative for conservative attorneys is the Federalist Society.

    http://www.fed-soc.org/aboutus/

  • I agree with Don. The sort of lawyers who are strongly pro-life and opposed to same-sex marriage aren’t the sort of lawyers who would involve themselves in the ABA.

  • I quit the ABA years ago. It has a terrific Tax Section that is very valuable to tax lawyers, but I could not stomach the lefty politics. Most tax attorneys lean conservative and ignore the liberal politics of the ABA. I just couldn’t take it. Unfortunately I do not believe that the Federalist Society has a tax section.

  • Many of us left when it adopted a pro-abortion position in the early 90s. I had the privilege of resigning twice. My firm inadvertently re-enrolled us the year after I first resigned. I got the chance to write a second letter of protest and resignation.

  • A very similar thing happened to me, ctd.

  • I don’t disagree with the analysis of the ABA’s policy stances. Indeed, there are few law schools that are not as far Left. However, there is a caveat that need be stated: new lawyers cannot afford to paint targets on themselves by publicly stating their politics.

    The Bush Administration was not the first to use the internet to vet CVs and resumes and will not be the last. The present administration – in all of its departments down to the lowest level that hires attorneys – looks for the writings and affiliations of applicants to determine whether the prospective attorney has the right “temperment” to be hired. This is true for non-profit and for-profit corporations as well. Certainly the law firms are doing the same.

    Unless new attorneys wish to go right into their own practice – a choice that few can afford to make – newly minted lawyers should, in general, not donate money to campaigns, join organizations that betray their political leanings (e.g. like the Federalist Society or the St. Thomas Moore Law Society), or become active in local politics. They SHOULD join their local bar association, if nothing else than for the contact opportunities and in order to get notification of Continuing Legal Education opportunities. The ABA also provides these opportunities and the new lawyer ignores it at their own peril.

    Some would say that this position suggests a lack of conviction. Such a view is short-sighted.

    In order to have conservative judges, justices, prosecutors, and the like, there must first be lawyers that can find a job after passing the bar. Rashly putting one’s politics out there is foolish. I would even go so far as to say that first year law students should be advised by thier administrations to take down their social networking sites and adopt a pseudonym when commenting anywhere on the net.

    Such is the world we live in.

  • Well since i am only a pre-baby lawyer i can’t say too much about the ABA. I haven’t joined the organization and my only dealings are with Model Rules. I agree with G-Veg. I am weary of the internet and posting my views until i figure out the job plan. I don’t want to burn bridges before I get into the practice.

  • I don’t know how to respond to B-Veg’s rather sober assesment as a general matter, but I will say that at my law firm (which has decidely more Dems than Repubs), we hire plenty of lawyers with STM Federalist Soc memberships on their resumes. Thankfully, very few of my lib partners are intolerant of conservatives and vice versa. We disagree plenty, but are seldom disagreeable about our differences. I have a hunch that this is true at many other large law firms, but can’t really for sure.

  • Very sorry for my clumsy typo, G-Veg.

  • I think G-Veg outlines one of several possible approaches new lawyers can take. It really depends on the individual. As far as I know, my friends in both the Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society listed those affiliations on their resumes. I listed STM, but not FedSoc or (for obvious reasons) ACS. None of my classmates relayed any horror stories or uncomfortable conversations in the interview process as a result of listing those affiliations; although a fellow summer clerk said he had once been treated to a lengthy lecture by a left-leaning partner who saw FedSoc on his resume (and a swiftly sent rejection letter).

    With regard to blogging and social networking, I think prospective new lawyers would be well-advised to make sure they monitor their Facebook pages, and comment under a pseudonym or handle of some type while blogging(although that may just be because I occasionally wish I could take back something I wrote, and wouldn’t want a prospective employer evaluating me based on that). Blogging and social networking are somewhat informal, and carry greater risks than a simple listing of membership on a resume.

  • I wish that “liberals” would actually be liberals and live up to the standards of their “coexist” bumper stickers. Aren’t they opposed to marginalization? Here we have the ABA marginalizing some lawyers; there we have the University of Illinois outright dismissing a professor. I just read a story in the local rag about eHarmony moving its corporate HQ out of Pasadena; the local hopenchangers are absoulutely giddy to be rid of that “homophobic” company.

    Where’s the tolerance? Where’s the love, man??

  • I never have joined the ABA although they keep calling me every couple years to sign up. Why would I pay $$ to a group that supports abortion and now, apparently, gay marriage?

    I just politely tell them I cannot join because of their pro-abort position. I guess I will now be able to add anti-marriage as well the next time they call.

    Not being a member of the ABA hasn’t hurt my career at all. You are better off (at least as a litigator) joining groups like your local bar associations.

Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

SCOTUS nominee Elena Kagan has argued before the Supreme Court that it’s fine if the Law bans books.

Her rationale?

Because the government won’t really enforce it.

I’m no legal scholar but this sounds like a 3rd grade argument.

Aren’t our nominees suppose to have better reasoning skills and a solid grasp of the U.S. Constitution?  As well as a fundamental understanding  of such concepts like Freedom of Speech?

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14 Responses to Elena Kagan Says It Is Fine If The Law Bans Books

  • Bibles banned in China – is that what is coming here?

  • So is Elena Kagan willing to support banning pornography magazines and books?

  • Like all the other “brilliant” liberals, Kagan the pagan is incapable of right reason.

  • Scratch the thin veneer of liberal bu!!$#it and you slam into totalitarianism.

    Peace, justice and human dignity: the slaves will enjoy free health care, free lunch, and free fornication!!!

  • But don’t you know that if you don’t want free health care, free lunch and free fornication you are part of the “let them eat cake” coalition?

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

  • Phillip and all the non-gravatar readers,

    I got tired of looking at the random abstract icons, so I switched the default to MonsterID’s in the faint hope that some of you guys will sign up for free gravatar accounts/icons.

    😉

  • And what’s with the new symbol thingies?

    Yeah, Tito. How are we supposed to upload a real picture? I tried registering at WordPress, but it won’t accept any reasonable facsimile of my real name as a user name. Can we upload a pic without registering at WordPress?

  • I kinda like my monster thingie. 🙂

  • I also had the same problem as j. Used multiple variations of my name and said they were all used. Must be a govt. program.

  • Phillip et al.,

    Just so everyone knows, MonsterID links that icon permanently to the email address you provide.

    So if you get tired of it, you have motivation to go over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and sign up for a free account!

    🙂

  • To be fair I am rather doubtful that Kagen wantts to ban books. I am trying to recall the exact sequence of events here . I actually think what started this all this were the ealier comments of the Deputy Solicter that gave the SUp COurt Justices the heebee jeevees and thus Kagen here is trying somehow to recover.

    That being said the Supreme Court can make the most seasoned lawyers look like idiots and also (and this is the problem the GOP will have in her hearings) she is basically just working for the boss. So when these hypos come out that go to the most alarming degree well there is not exactly a easy answer.

  • jh

    Nail! Head!

    She’s going to rubber stamp Obama. She’s a nothing and will continue to do nothing except vote for whatever the boss wants.

    Phil, I’m paying for the free health and lunch. They’re on their own when it comes to fornicking. I’m of the “let them have the opportunity to pursue happiness” coalition.

    My grav seems appropriate!

Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution

Friday, June 25, AD 2010

[Update I:  I have streamlined the following post to be easily readable to the average layman, but informative enough for a lawyer or law professor to learn a bit more on the similarities and differences between Sharia and U.S. Law]

Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?

The simple answer is of course “no”.

But lets take a look at some aspects of Sharia Law and where it may or may not conflict with the U.S. Constitution.  (For disclosure I am not a lawyer nor a legal expert in Sharia or U.S. Law.)

First, what is Sharia?

Wikipedia states Sharia refers to the sacred law of Islam.  All Muslims believe Sharia is God’s law, but they have differences between themselves as to exactly what it entails.  Which will be difficult to discern what to apply when, but we’ll labor along for the sake of discussion.

In Western countries, where Muslim immigration is more recent, Muslim minorities have introduced Sharia family law, for use in their own disputes. Attempts to impose Sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare (Second Sudanese Civil War).

The recent incidents at the Arab International Festival have reinforced the poor image of Sharia inside the United States and its incompatibility with American culture and law.

The following is a truncated version with a couple of modifications (eliminating repetitious ibids and links) of multiple Wikipedia entries [with my comments]:

Legal and Court Proceedings:

Wikipedia states that Sharia judicial proceedings have significant differences with other legal traditions, including those in both common law and civil law.

1. Sharia courts do not generally employ lawyers; plaintiffs and defendants represent themselves.

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14 Responses to Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution

  • “Is Sharia compatible with the U.S. Constitution?”

    “The simple answer is of course “no”.”

    I agree 100%.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this most informative article on the differences between Sharia law and the Constitution or/and Civil Law within the U.S.

    Freedom which is one of America’s core principles is not compatible with Sharia Law.

  • This is “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

    The motto is “e pluribus unum” not “e pluribus pluribus.”

    There is no liberty or justice under sharia, nor is there either under the yoke of Muhammedanism: the summation of evil and all heresies.

    The filthy pagans cannot charge or pay interest; so they have a sort of subterfuge that makes the loan/interest like a lease or installmant sale plan at a profit (not interest) over tte monthly to the seller. I had to try to twist that mare’s nest to fit US accounting and taxes. It was frustrating dealing with the morons.

  • Religion is never to be instituted in government. Not just Islam.

  • Juri,

    The U.S. Constitution is loaded with Christian idioms and language.

    Are you exhibiting some form of Christophobia?

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  • The article ‘Sharia Law and the U.S. Constitution’ misses three (3) very important points for Catholics:

    1. Islam is misclassified as a religion for a reason – Islam is a governmental system of ‘conquest and control’ that is both ‘expansionist and intolerant’.

    2. There is nothing missing in the Laws of the United States of America that needs to be fixed by so-called Sharia Law.

    3. The U.S. Constitution is a divinely-inspired work that speaks of a Republic (i.e. no monarchy) with God-given (i.e. no church) inalienable rights of the individual.

    In point one, Catholics should know the difference between a religion and a cult: A true religion revolves around a spiritual ‘deity’ (i.e. a one and only God); whereas a cult revolves around a human being or multiple pagan gods. To understand this better, one needs only compare the life and teachings of Jesus to the life and teachings of the founders (i.e. human beings) of other cults or religions. The Crusades were a reaction to Islamic aggression and expansion into the Holy Land.

    To point two, Catholics will be the first to remind others that in America, it is religion that is protected from government and not the other way around. It is ‘freedom of religion’ and not ‘freedom from religion’ that we are privileged to enjoy here. In Saudi Arabia, no Christian churches are allowed. All over the world, intolerance towards Christians often results in mass murder and destruction of churches. Christianity is the only true religion of peace.

    As for point three, Catholics need to take a stand between ‘one world governance’ (i.e. economic, religious and military globalism) and ‘American Sovereignty’. (i.e. as guaranteed to them in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.) Catholics also need to be aware of the difference between a collective and mandated ‘social justice’, administered by a socialist government and the spiritually-correct ‘morality and generosity’ exemplified by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    Last but not least, Catholics really need to educate themselves about the reason why the Constitution requires Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States to be ‘Natural Born Citizens’. (i.e born in the U.S. to parents that are both citizens, etc.) The reason for this is to avoid ‘divided loyalty’. John F. Kennedy, the first and only Catholic President was quite eloquent and clear about his loyalty to the people of the U.S. vs. the Pope. The current president has demonstrated his loyalties are divided between International Globalist Banking and Expansionist Global Islam. Somehow, he seems to have left the American people out of the equation.

    We need to pray for America as we’ve never prayed for her before. And may God bless and protect our Holy Catholic Church.

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  • This is a great short summary, thanks! These are details that most people don’t know.

    Numbers 7 & 8 could be greatly expounded upon. What I’ve heard/read somewhere is that the reason why many women never report rape is that if they cannot prove they were raped and yet in the course of the trial they “admit” to having sex they may be stoned for adultery under Sharia law.

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Sharia in Dearborn?

Thursday, June 24, AD 2010

Apparently the police acting to unconstitutionally arrest individuals attempting to hand out proselytizing literature to Muslims in Dearborn is not unusual according to this release from the Thomas More Law Center:

In what some have described as police enforcement of Sharia law at the annual Dearborn Arab International Festival, last Friday night Dearborn Police Officers arrested four Christian missionaries and illegally confiscated their video cameras which were recording the events surrounding their arrests.  The Thomas More Law Center, a public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today announced it is representing all of the Christian missionaries.

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28 Responses to Sharia in Dearborn?

  • “Will we see more of this type of official misbehavior wherever Muslim immigrants become the majority…”

    Yes.

  • I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.

    Given that the missionaries were targeting a large gathering of Muslims, this sounds like it was intended to provoke a reaction. I think it would have been different if they had been handing out literature during a normal day.

    I’m sympathetic to the message of the missionaries, but I don’t think the method is effective.

  • “I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.”

    Such an action is unconstitutional. You can’t arrest people constitutionally for fear of violence from the targeted audience. That is called a “heckler’s veto” and has been condemned by the Supreme Court many times.

    http://www.rbs2.com/heckler.htm

    This is not a murky area of the law. The Dearborn police knew that legally they could not arrest the missionaries but they did it anyway.

  • Such an action is unconstitutional.

    To be more clear, police in the case I described above did not make any arrests until the pro-abortion people had been warned several times to move across the street.

  • JohnH; I don’t think that affects the question of the constitutionality of the request. Why have the police the right to issue such directives if no laws are being broken? If they do so in order to “keep the peace,” and in doing that they attempt a “heckler’s veto,” then they are acting unconstitutionally.

    Not that our country is very big on members of the state or federal executive branches adhering to the constitution…

    My sense is that these sorts of arrests happen all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these evangelists entered the festival precisely because they knew it would cause conflict. What is being sought here? A true evangelization or an opportunity to score points in the culture wars?

  • WJ

    I know examples of evangelicals doing this at Catholic events, being thrown out (and if they won’t go), being arrested. So you are correct — this kind of thing happens all the time, and yes, the evangelicals are looking for conflict.

  • An example where this happened, and where Protestants have played the martyr card for similar activities against Catholics, look no further than here:

    http://formercatholicsforchrist.com/mrssexton/index.html

    On Monday, Sept.2, a woman walked up to the booth and took some of our tracts. She proceeded to walk into out booth, throw the tracts on the ground and stood on them, blocking the posters. We asked her to stand outside the booth, as we had spent $250 for the booth. I even advised her to purchase a booth next year and call it “Former Catholics For Christ is a hate group” and to use all the information she had gathered in our booth. She refused to leave, stating that she had permission from the Stark County Fair Board to picket us. My sister went to the fair board office to find out if this was true. She had lied. They called security, but to our surprise, the security refused to ask her to leave the booth. They said she was exercising her free speech. Diane explained that the booth was not “free” and that we had purchased the space. We again asked that she be removed to the outside of our booth. The security guards refused. My husband asked, “Is it okay if I take our Jesus is the Only Way poster and stand in the Catholic booth down the isle.” The security guard threatened my husband with jail if he spoke again. Finally an officer in full uniform showed up. He argued with the lady for about 10 minutes until the Stark County board showed up and made her leave. She returned to the sheriff’s booth where she worked (“volunteered”). Many of the booths that witnessed the events came up and offered their support.

  • “My sense is that these sorts of arrests happen all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these evangelists entered the festival precisely because they knew it would cause conflict. What is being sought here? A true evangelization or an opportunity to score points in the culture wars?”

    Considering the fact that three of the four missionaries are converts to Christianity from Islam, I rather suspect an opportunity for true evanagelization. In any case, the important point for me is that cops have no right to arrest individuals who are simply exercising their right of freedom of speech peacefully on public property.

  • By asking the Christian evangelists to move across the street, the intent of the police may not have been so much to deprive them of their right to distribute literature as to exercise a reasonable time, place and manner restriction on their right to assemble. Not sure if this is kosher though if the distribution violated no ordinances, etc. But probably very understandable. I suspect the charges will be related to refusing to comply with police instructions rather than distributing anything, and further suspect they’ll be dropped.

  • I suspect the charges will be related to refusing to comply with police instructions rather than distributing anything, and further suspect they’ll be dropped.

    Ditto.

  • Henry K.,

    Remember this is an Arab International Festival, not a Muslim International Festival.

    Your straw man holds no water.

  • Tito:

    And the festival in Ohio was a public one… not a Catholic one…

  • Tito,

    if it is an Arab festival than perhaps the title of the post, which refernces sharia, should be edited

  • Nope. One of the key elements of Sharia is that proselytizing Muslims is not to be tolerated. The Dearborn police department seem to agree with that.

  • The Dearborn Chief of Police is a Muslim.

  • It is funny how my comment was deleted. But I will try one more time:

    the situation with the booth and the anti-catholic was at a city festival, not a Catholic one…

    [found the comment and restored it]

  • I don’t know what happened to your previous comment Karlson. This is my thread and I’ve approved each comment you’ve made.

  • Well, someone deleted it, perhaps before you saw it, Donald.

  • “Not sure if this is kosher”

    Actually, if we’re talking about Muslims the proper term would be “halal” — the dietary rules of Islam, which actually are similar to those of the Jewish faith in some respects (e.g. banning pork, requiring specific methods of slaughter).

    The event in question bills itself as an Arab International Festival. Now, haven’t some of us been making the point, in posts regarding Israel and the Palestinians, that NOT all Arabs are Muslims? Surely there are Christian Arabs (most likely Maronites or members of other Eastern Rite Churches) in Dearborn as well as Muslims. Do they participate in this festival? It would be nice to get their take on the situation.

    I

  • Yes Elaine, Dearborn has very large Arab population and they are Muslim, Christian, and some rather secular. I’m not familiar with this festival but I’m quite sure it’s open to the general public and people of all faiths and ancestry attend. Dearborn has a very large and popular festival in the summer that many people from all over the region attend. I wouldn’t be surprised if these folks intend on distributing their literature then too. My guess is that if they do they will be sent away or locked up again.

  • It really doesn’t matter if the missionaries are ineffective or a little obnoxious, that’s not the point. The point is that this is America and people are allowed to hand pamphlets to you and say things to you about their beliefs. I’m always polite to the Baptists, Mormons, JWs and anti-corporate union petitioners when they come to my door. I don’t always take their stuff, but I don’t summon the police either. The union people usually need a shower unlike the Mormons, but hey, it takes all kinds.

    When I lived in Pittsburgh there were street preachers downtown and in Oakland. They were totally obnoxious, IMHO, but they were allowed to do their thing due to freedom of speech–they weren’t arrested. We have the freedom to make asses of ourselves. One guy was an ex-Catholic and he tried to engage me in conversation. He was itching for an argument, and I didn’t give him the satisfaction. But I didn’t get offended by him either. I’m just thankful that I don’t need the require the kind of meds that he should have been on. Even so, these people weren’t hurting anybody and more than the pigeons.

    These Muslims need to get used to America. It might be more to our advantage to pass out copies of the founding documents. Obviously it would be nice if they converted to Christianity, but most are too stubborn and brainwashed, not to mention scared, to even think about it.

  • These Muslims need to get used to America. It might be more to our advantage to pass out copies of the founding documents.

    The chief of police in Dearborn is behaving in a manner congruent with the default settings of the educational apparat in this country, which in turn is simpatico with the political class in Canada, Sweden, and the Netherlands, among other loci.

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  • JohnH says:
    Thursday, June 24, 2010 A.D. at 1:26 pm
    I don’t know. This sounds more like an attempt by the police to keep the peace.

    I’ve been at pro-life rallies where police have arrested pro-abortion activists who were handing out literature. It’s the same principle, make sure a heated situation doesn’t escalate.

    Given that the missionaries were targeting a large gathering of Muslims, this sounds like it was intended to provoke a reaction. I think it would have been different if they had been handing out literature during a normal day.

    I’m sympathetic to the message of the missionaries, but I don’t think the method is effective.
    =====
    Um, there’s a freedom of religion, but NO freedoms for abortion within ANY aspects of the Constitution, the Declaration, nor the Bill of Rights. So, for police to arrest someone for passing out PRO-abortion literature is perfectly within the province of law enforcement. Whereas, police have NO rights with respect to what someone does regarding religion and the free exercise thereof. PLEASE READ YOUR FOUNDING DOCUMENTS: Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence before commenting on what you “think” is okay or not. Opinions are NOT valid in a court of popular opinion nor courts of law!

  • It appears to me that the police were very patient, my father raised me to obey the law and if the police asked me to leave the area then i better leave the area. If you hang around and argue you should expect to be arrested. Also the they stated they were across the street, apears to me they were right next to a ride at the event. Bottom line is they went their to get a rise out of the event and they got what they deserved.

  • The missionaries were aqcuitted back in September of the bogus breach of the peace charges:

    http://www.examiner.com/independent-in-detroit/four-christian-missionaries-acquited-of-inciting-dearborn-michigan-muslims

Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

Monday, June 14, AD 2010

One of the many things that makes Louisiana the greatest state in the Union is that due to its high population of Catholics it is the most pro-life state on the issue of abortion. This allows Louisiana to develop and pass pro-life laws that legislators in other states can adopt.

The latest laws are no exception, though perhaps they are too late. You may remember how in the healthcare debate, Catholics promoting the bill often pointed out that insurance often covers abortion and that the federal bill was doing little to expand coverage for abortion over the current private insurance system. Some in that camp obviously believed that the Republicans were too wedded to big business/insurance to actually change that.

I was glad they pointed this out, as it exposed a situation which I believed pro-lifers would soon rectify. Indeed, Louisiana is very close to doing just that:

House Bill 1247 by Rep. Frank Hoffman, R-West Monroe, would bar private insurers from covering “elective” abortions, including by women who are victims of rape or incest. The only exception would be for abortion procedures performed to save the life of the pregnant woman

Sen. Gerald Long, R-Natchitoches, who handled Hoffman’s bill, said it was filed in response to the health-care overhaul bill approved earlier this year by Congress, which gives states the right to “opt out” of covering elective abortions. He said the legislation is meant to affirm Louisiana’s long-standing opposition to abortion.

Hoffman’s bill, which passed 28-3, must go back to the House for agreement with changes made by the Senate before it can go to Gov. Bobby Jindal‘s desk.

Hopefully more pro-life states will follow Louisiana’s lead.

But it does clearly show the problems with the positions adopted by Catholics who promoted Obamacare. They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things. While sometimes the GOP does justly cause pro-lifers to be close to despair, Louisiana shows that sometimes real pro-life change can come if only we work for it.

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10 Responses to Louisiana Close to Passing Pro-Life Measures

  • “They gave up on the pro-life movement’s ability to actually change things.”

    Michael, you hit the nail squarely on the head there, my friend. And it wasn’t just in the Obamacare fight. We saw the same thing during the 2008 election when formerly solid pro-lifers abandoned the principled positions they once held regarding the necessity of pursuing a legal regime that protects the unborn in law and decided to play the pro-choice Catholic game of pursuing left-wing “quality-of-life” measures that allegedly “reduce” the so-called “need” for abortion.

    Examine the things Kmiec, Cafardi, et al said during the 2008 election to justify their support of the pro-abortion Obama, and it basically comes down to the problem you identify: they appeared to have despaired of the ability of the pro-life agenda and the efforts of pro-lifers to bring about change (never mind just holding the line against the encroaching culture of death). Either that or they were flakes hoping to latch onto the hopey-changey bandwagon. Probably a little of both.

  • Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.

  • “due to its high population of Catholics, (Louisiana) is the most pro-life state”

    By that measure, Rhode Island ought to be the most pro-life state in the Union since nearly 60 percent of its residents are Catholic (2006 figures).

    According to this chart, Louisiana, with 26.1 percent Catholic residents, is only #12 on the list of “most Catholic” states (based on pre-Katrina 2005 population figures):

    http://www.askacatholic.com/_whatsnew/myfavorites2/catholic_population.cfm#percentage

    A question that really begs to be asked is, why are at least 8 of the top 10 “most Catholic” states on the list controlled or dominated by liberal, pro-abort (not to mention corrupt) Democrats?

  • I can only imagine St. Peter’s verdict on our betters’ male-of-the-bovine-species-feces rationals for advancing untrammeled mass exterminations of millions of unborn babies; ESCR; gay marriage; and public schools’ immoral brainwashing of a hundred million American youth.

    We can pray for them. As long as they live there is the chance they may come to a better mind that the sanctity of human life is more vital than the secular human, progressive agenda, i.e., socialism (which is mass brigandage).

    These are the teachings of the Popes, including the current Pope who promulgated a list of four non-negotiables which were wilfully ignored by 54% of catholics, including bishops.

    Kmiec was named ambassador to Malta. He thought he’d get the Vatican . . . [heh] I think Malta is the most Catholic nation on the planet, and the Maltese should have turned him away.

  • “Any thoughts on if the restrictions will be found Constitutional? Not being negative, just don’t know.”

    The restrictions are not contrary to the statues written into law, so there is no reason it would be challenged in court.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Michael on this — more states need to follow this example. Though as a native Texan, Michael could not be more wrong on what state is the greatest in the Union.

    However it would be intellectually dishonest for it not to be mentioned that Louisiana’s new law is not a slap-in-the-face to the federal government.

    During the health care debate last year, the U.S. House adopted at the last minute a measure (the Stupak Amendment) that would prohibit any insurance plan sold in the exchanges from including policies that cover abortion, whether public (when the “public option” was on the table) or private.

    In the Senate, there were not a sufficient number of pro-life votes to adopt a federal-wide policy like the Stupak Amendment to ban abortion in the exchanges. The vote on such an amendment only garnered 38 Republican votes and 7 Democrats. The final compromise (because Senator Nelson did not hold out) was that each state would be allowed to enact an abortion ban in its exchanges as well as opt to ban abortion in any private insurance plan sold in the state period (which was already existing law; it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any plan in Missouri prior to the health care debate).

    This law that is on the brink of passage in Louisiana has already passed in Tennessee and is the law. In other words, the state legislatures are merely acting within the frame of “ObamaCare” and what they are doing is acting on a provision that was explicitly written into the bill. It was known without any ambiguity before the bill passed that states were going to be able to do this. It was not some “obscure” provision (as Fox News recently put it) because I recall it (the “Senate compromise” as the NRTL termed it) being rejected by pro-life groups that insisted that the Stupak Amendment was the only acceptable option.

    Quite honestly, I opposed the final bill and I think there was great reason to do so. But I am somewhat dismayed that there was so much information, mostly “talking points”, both true and false, circulating that people were unaware of how actual policies would look when they materialized.

    I’m not trying to take a shot at anyone here particularly. If it seems that way, I truly apologize. But I have honestly lost some trust in groups that condemned this very compromise the day it was unveiled and are now today celebrating its existence.

    I suppose this was God’s gift of a window, when it seemed to the pro-life mind that a door had closed when the bill passed.

    That’s my two cents.

  • Eric:

    I agree that this isn’t a slap in the face to Obamacare.

    As you point out though, states could already do this before Obamacare. I do have to give Obamacare credit if permission is explicitly written into the law (I didn’t know that before). That said, I’m still uncomfortable with the money that the federal government does pay when states don’t ban abortion in the exchange.

    Elaine:

    My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics. Why Louisiana has retained this while many of the states in the list have more secular versions of Catholicism is an interesting question, though I imagine Louisiana’s culture (Acadiana for example) has done much to retain it.

  • “My feeling is that Louisiana has a much higher number of practicing and/or orthodox Catholics”

    I suspect the active Catholic culture of New Orleans and Cajun country has a lot to do with this. However, there was an equally active Catholic culture among the Irish in New York and Boston, among French Canadians in New England, and among Italians, Poles, and other ethnic groups in Chicago, Philly, Milwaukee, etc.

    One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

  • Eric,

    Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?

  • One explanation I have read is that Louisiana lost a lot of its reliably Democratic voters after Katrina, which enabled more conservatives and Republicans like Gov. Bobby Jindal to be elected. It pains me to suggest this, but perhaps Louisiana has actually become LESS Catholic and more evangelical Protestant since Katrina and that is why pro-life measures are moving more quickly?

    Bobby Jindal is Catholic and almost beat Blanco the first time he ran for governor (when he came out of nowhere), then spent the 4 years in between courting the Protestant North Louisiana by convincing them he wasn’t crazy (and not a Muslim, which seemed to be a problem up there). So it’s not Jindal needed a dramatic change via Katrina to win.

    The bulk of the population loss in Louisiana was African-American (from what we can tell). Most of that was probably Protestant, as the majority of the African-american community is Protestant. We also had an influx of immigrants who came looking for the construction jobs (we’re not sure how many of them are still around or whether they moved on), but that would be a more Catholic influx. So if anything, Louisiana may have become more Catholic rather than Protestant.

    It’s also worth noting that at this point, the only prominent pro-abortion politicians are the Landrieus (Sen. Mary and Mayor of New Orleans Mitch) which has for a long time been the most prominent political family in the state. This means that across both Protestant North Louisiana and Catholic South Louisiana, most of the politicians are pro-life. That might change when the New Orleans votes out Cao and puts in an African-American democrat but both Protestants and Catholics seem to be strongly united on the pro-life side of the abortion issue.

  • “Even though it is written into statute, can’t the statute be declared unconstitutional?”

    I am not a constitutional law scholar, but I don’t see any reason it should be overturned in court — and if it were challenged, I think we (pro-lifers) would have a pretty good case.

    States do not make it illegal for private insurance to sell abortion coverage, but states can and do regulate how they offer it. For example, in Missouri before the health care debate it was illegal to sell abortion as a primary benefit in any private insurance policy — it always had to be a “rider” or supplemental policy that is bought in addition to any health plan, paid for in a strictly separate manner. The goal was to protect the conscience of other citizens in the state so that they would not be directly or indirectly subsidizing abortion by funding a risk pool that covers such an evil.

    In the exchanges, it would have the same effect — no insurance company could sell abortion as a primary benefit, but if someone opted to have abortion coverage, they would have to purchase a “rider” with their own funds on top of the comprehensive plan they bought into. This was precisely what the Stupak language would have done at the national level. Obviously we did not get that in the Senate, so the best bet (given that the bill passed) is to have each state pass Stupak-like legislation.

    This issue, in effect, is very similar to the Medicaid problem. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal dollars cannot be used to subsidize abortions through Medicaid. But Medicaid is a joint federal-state program. 32 states follow the federal government’s initiative and don’t fund abortion except for the three infamous exceptions. However, 17 states use state funds — and I’m not assure about the accounting methods and how it is kept, if it is at all, separate from federal funds — to cover all “medically necessary” abortions, which really means any and all abortions.

    So this legislation, though very imperfect, has brought the abortion fight back to the states and it is at the state level, by and large, that pro-life gains occur the most.

    We should count our blessings.

Social Contract and Morality

Friday, June 11, AD 2010

Kyle Cupp has a brief post describing the dehumanizing moral effects of seeing human dignity and rights as springing entirely from a social contract (implied or explicit):

This reduction occurs when we understand and act upon our moral obligations to one another only within the framework of a social contract–when we limit our obligations to those who have entered into such contracts and consider ourselves obligated only to those who share our citizenship, have signed a treaty we have signed, or participate with us in some other contractual arrangement. I make this reduction when I don’t care about torturing terrorists because they’re not signers of the Geneva Conventions, when I wish to alienate the immigrant who enters my country against my country’s laws, when I ignore my obligations to those not yet born because the laws of the land do not recognize their personhood, or when I insist that others shouldn’t be given Constitutional rights when the rights I wish to withhold from them are basic human rights.

I think that he’s right as far as he goes, but I don’t think that his point that basic human rights and duties are inherent to humanity (rather than assumed via some sort of contract/relationship) is actually the point usually at dispute in our society. Rather, what seems often to be disputed is what the extent of basic human rights are — and which “rights” are merely agreed civic rights which we grant explicitly via the social contract.

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15 Responses to Social Contract and Morality

  • Of course what are called “human rights” today are almost entirely the product of Western societies since the Sixteenth Century, much of it from Great Britain and America in origin. Much of what we call “human rights” today would have been denounced as pernicious and/or dangerous throughout most of human history by most cultures. To say that “human rights” arise simply due to inherent moral obligations that exist between people, we are confronted with the difficulty that most cultures for most of human history would vigorously disagree.

  • Thank you for the thoughtful response, Darwin. I’m pretty sure that I agree with the points you make, particularly in your last paragraph. To clarify my post, let me say that when the reduction is made, it isn’t usually (if ever) made flat out in a way that covers a person’s entire morality; it’s rather applied here and there inconsistently.

  • Donald,

    You raise a good point about the history of rights language. It is a recent invention. I tend to call rights a useful fiction, myself.

  • I do agree with what Kyle said. But, from other discussions I know that I don’t agree with how Kyle applies his generic or all inclusive definition of basic human rights to all persons of all types of backgrounds, since his definition doesn’t seem to take into consideration ( or very little consideration) certain circumstances and/or the consequences that one must face when committing a crime or an act of war. This is applicable with regards to both illegal immigrants and terrorists.

    While I do believe that enhanced interrogation techniques are justified in very extreme, life saving circumstances, I do think that the Bush administration allowed the use of them too frequently. But, then again, one needs to realize the atmosphere after 9/11, and no person wanted anything like this to ever happen again. I don’t support the three items on your list. They are in violation of basic human rights. With regards to immigration, I am all for legal immigration but am against illegal immigration. One would think that having secure borders would be a good thing, especially for our safety, but certain people deride people who advocate for secure borders and call us other vile names just because we want immigrants to follow our laws and immigrate here via the proper channels.

  • My only issue is that I don’t ever recall Morning’s Minion, whom Kyle is supposedly defending with his post, demonstrating an accurate understanding of classical social contract theory, nor providing and concrete examples of this bad sort of “contract thinking” in our society.

    There is nothing wrong with the social contract. It defines clearly the parameters of government. The alternative is arbitrary authority. We as Catholics can be proud that the resistance to absolute, arbitrary authority probably began in the Salamanca school.

  • Yes, clearly those who support enhanced interrogation do so on the basis that:

    (a.) It is not a violation of basic human rights;

    (b.) Strictures against using such techniques in the civilian criminal and civil code apply only in the civilian criminal and civil code, because they arise from the social contract;

    (c.) Strictures against using such techniques against prisoners of war also arise, not from a fundamental right, but from a contractual obligation; namely, treaty obligations regarding lawful combatants. These do not apply to persons whose status is “unlawful combatant.”

    Of course, (b.) and (c.) depend on first establishing (a.). If in fact everyone does have a basic human right, intrinsic to their dignity as a human person, not to be waterboarded, why then the presence or absence of a contract doesn’t matter a whit. Only if (a.) is true, does anyone even bother with (b.) and (c.).

    So, what about (a.)?

    To repeat, (a.) asserts that enhanced interrogation is not a violation of the basic human rights intrinsic to the dignity of human persons.

    Now it sounds absurd on the face of it to say this. Obviously we know we shouldn’t go grabbing random persons and waterboarding them, so, in obedience to this moral intuition, we conclude that it must be “a violation of their basic human rights” to do so, right? And if it’s a violation of the basic human rights of any random person, it must likewise be a violation of the basic human rights of a war criminal like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, right?

    Well, not so fast. One mustn’t go around waterboarding random persons. One mustn’t go around locking up random persons, either. Does it follow that locking up Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a violation of his basic human rights?

    Why, no. It would only be a violation if he were innocent of wrongdoing. As he is a particularly nasty terrorist and about as far from innocent as it is possible to be, it’s perfectly okay to violate his basic human right of liberty, which is intrinsic to his dignity as a human being, by locking him up.

    Actually, I said that incorrectly. It’s not okay to violate his basic human right…but locking him up is no violation, because getting locked up is a freely-chosen consequence on his part. He chose, even asked, to be treated that way just by doing what he did. If he wasn’t willing to do the time, he shouldn’t have done the war-crime.

    But that raises a problem. Why can we not likewise argue that, while of course persons in general have a right to not be waterboarded, KSM voluntarily renounced that right by choosing to orchestrate terror plots to kill thousands of innocent people. Why can we not argue that, by doing this, he “chose, even asked,” to be waterboarded?

    Is there some qualitative or categorical difference between the right to freedom from imprisonment and the right to freedom from waterboarding, such that the former right can be voluntarily renounced by evil deeds, but the latter cannot?

    So the question is this:

    Given that people voluntarily renounce certain of their rights (at minimum, their liberty and/or property) when they commit heinous crimes by committing those crimes, it is reasonable, and not a violation of their rights, to forcibly deprive them of the benefits of the rights they have renounced.

    Yet, even before we read Church teachings on the matter, we recognize that the Moral Law forbids us to treat these persons as if they had, by committing whatever evil deed, renounced all of the rights intrinsic to the human dignity. We may lock them up; so, crimes are clearly capable of constituting a rejection of one’s right to liberty. We may not hang them from a mechanized hook and lower them an inch at a time, screaming, into an industrial shredding machine; so, crimes are clearly incapable of constituting a rejection of one’s right to not be shredded alive.

    How then, can one distinguish between the two categories of rights? Which ones may be renounced by crimes of sufficient magnitude, and which may not, no matter how horrific the crime?

    The Right to Not Be Waterboarded seems, according to Church teaching and most thinking Catholic opinion, to fall in the category of rights which are never, ever renounced. Even if one were, say, to personally rape and slowly murder fifty thousand innocent children while enjoying the whole process, one would have, by doing so, renounced one’s rights to both life and liberty, but not one’s right to avoid waterboarding.

    Why so?

    I am perfectly content agreeing that there is a line to be drawn; I am perfectly content saying that that is where the line is drawn; but I am confused about whether it was drawn there arbitrarily and could have been placed elsewhere, or if it was drawn there according to some unalterable moral principle which, when understood, allows us to see that the line could only ever be drawn in that way.

    Does anyone want to propose a principle which explains the positioning of the line? Or is it arbitrary, after all?

  • Joe,

    I agree that there is nothing wrong with the social contract per se. My concern is with the social contract used as a metaphorical framework for moral thought and action. I’m critical of thinking of moral obligations too much in terms of a social contract, moral thought that relies too heavily on the metaphor, that at times fails to account for obligations that exist beyond its boundaries. When someone denies another a basic human right because that other is not a “signer” of the social contract, he has treated a personal moral obligation as if it were an obligation under a social contract.

  • And as others have pointed out, we have to distinguish between civil and “basic human rights.” Who decides what a basic human right is?

    For instance, I believe an illegal immigrant has a basic human right to have their immediate needs met – if they are hungry, feed them, if they are naked, clothe them, if they are sick, care for them, contract or no contract. That is the basic Christian obligation.

    But when it comes to say, access to social services such as medical care beyond the emergency level, or education, or food stamps, etc. – then the public authorities, whose charge is to maintain the common good, have every right to regulate and restrict who has access to these services on the basis of what is fiscally and socially sustainable.

    This used to be understood in Catholic social thought. Now I’m not so sure it is. Now “common good” has come to mean services and spending without limit, in the name of satisfying “basic human rights.” That is to say, more and more things are falling under the umbrella of “basic human rights”, all of which the state is obliged to tax and pay for.

    But unsustainable policies cannot benefit the common good. If society collapses under the weight of entitlements, benefits, and a greatly expanded understanding of “basic human rights”, then I would say a much greater moral harm is done a great many more people. Some may call that “consequentialism”, but I don’t think it is an intrinsic evil for states to set boundaries and limits in order to ensure basic functionality.

  • Who decides what a basic human right is?

    Spoken like a good anti-Christian nihilist!

  • I wasn’t going to allow or respond to this childish nonsense, but for the sake of clarity I will indulge:

    My intention was not to say that it is impossible to decide what a basic human right is, but that in politics, there are many competing claims that demand recognition.

    I am neither anti-Christian nor a “nihilist” (another one of the pet words). I will rephrase the question: who decides which claims to basic human rights are endorsed by the state? Why is it that many more things are considered “basic human rights” than were 100 years ago? I don’t say that there are no basic human rights, but that in the current political climate, the concept continues to expand without limit, without regard for realistic limitations, and in doing so, putting ALL human rights in jeopardy.

  • Joe, don’t let Karlson get under your skin. That’s just how he reacts when he can’t control the discussion and drop the comments that he doesn’t see as advancing his pet agenda. He becomes unhinged and resorts to desperate ad hominems. It’s his tell – like when someone who doesn’t have any good cards tries to bluff his way through a poker hand but doesn’t realize that when he does his unconscious “rub-his-nose-with-his-index-finger-and smile” routine he is telegraphing the fact that he’s got nothing to every skilled player at the table. Pity him.

  • Yeah, sorry, Joe. I didn’t see Henry’s comment while it was still sitting in moderation, or I probably would have just deleted it as the non-comment it is.

    Pity is probably the right move here.

  • Eh. Maybe I should have let you, but it’s good to clear the air. People should see what we’re dealing with too.

  • My understanding, with regard to whether a terrorist or criminal forfeits the right not to be tortured, lies in the distinction between torture and other types of violence. War is inherently violent, and if it is unjust it is a travesty, but if it is just it is permitted (notice I don’t say noble, however, though personal acts of courage that are genuinely noble certainly occur even in unjust wars). Torture is not merely violence, but violence ordered toward a particular end: getting information out of the subject. So, where punishment or defense merits “violation” of the right an aggressor forfeits, the same may not be true of merely getting information from them by force that damages the body or the mind. (That’s my definition of torture in concrete terms, also.) I would suggest that while punishment is oriented directly toward dealing with the action it punishes and defense likewise, torture is on the other hand oriented directly toward information and therefore not, in the moral order, an immediate necessity and justified response to forfeiture of rights (which is a very limited forfeiture even where it does occur, by the way; it’s almost as if the criminal forces his rights out of the picture, although I do not mean by that a necessity argument which is a nicer way of saying a utilitarian argument). I would further argue that we have historically viewed torture as wrong regardless of any contract — things such as the Geneva Convention were put together largely after and in response to the great war crimes of the twentieth century that we prosecuted anyway (waterboarding by the Axis forces in WW2, for example). Finally, I would note that the Church appears (I say appears because the Catechism has been unclear in the past, inasmuch as stating as if it were required what is still technically only pious opinion is technically unclear) to teach that torture, that violence ordered toward extraction of information rather than either punishment or direct defense, is intrinsically evil.

    Thus, while I’m not totally closed to being corrected if I’m mistaken as to any of those moral standpoints, those are the well developed points that would need to be addressed to even begin suggesting torture is permissible on those who forfeit the bulk of their rights.

    Also, if one does argue that torture is permissible on war criminals because they’ve forfeited rights, one has to demonstrate the forfeiture of rights before one can act on it — and in terms of law, that generally means convict the war criminal first and interrogate after — which entirely robs the “necessity” argument of any urgency factor, the way it takes time to convict. One could argue also that an active combatant proves his status by that action, as these are whom one may shoot in a war without any trial or other formal process; however, one may not generally shoot an enemy who is captured and deprived of ability to combat because you’ve removed them from the very situation of immediate combat that both allows and necessitates said immediate judgement, so it’d be questionable whether such a parallel would even make torture of captured foes legitimate or rather prove it illegitimate.

  • I should also note regarding my definition of torture that damage need not be permanent. Also, I’m not sure I shouldn’t include direct infliction of pain in there, but one could argue pain as passing mental damage (since it impairs one’s immediate ability to think clearly)… but it’s the direct infliction, not the result of damage, that makes the difference — not that the classical notion of the direct object of an act means anything to the vast majority even of Catholics today, who would probably fail to realize that that _is_ drawing the line between mere discomfort (which is different from pain in kind, not just degree) or poor living conditions or anything like that and actual inflicting of pain. Let’s see, anything else… Risk. I’d probably count anything that risks such things just as sure as anything that obviously does it, simply because morality doesn’t play loose with possibilities and doubts (even where it acknowledges the _subjective_ effects of doubt, which, mind, can worsen the moral content if one is guilty of allowing the doubt to stay and especially to stay in a thing one knows one will act in).

    There’s a lot of temptation these days to call definitions unclear because we can equivocate around them, as if a clear definition would be immune to equivocation — and yet actually, that’s in the definition of equivocation: when something’s not clear in the first place, there isn’t a good meaning #1 for which to misconstrue with meaning #2, now is there? So anyway… yeah, I felt the need to try to add further qualification. Not sure I succeeded.

    And of course, one can also say all this is my “armchair theologian” pontification, but then, I don’t have to be stolen from to tell you we should criminalize theft either.

45 Responses to Arizona: Doing the Job the Feds Will Not Do!

  • This is a failure by the federal government. I don’t know anybody who wants to send people back who are looking for work, but there has to be some kind of order. Why hasn’t the U.S and Mexican governments set up some kind of system where workers can come and go in a legal fashion. Instead of them risking their lives crossing the desert.

  • Nice touch on the “o” in “won’t”, lol

  • And, I’m a proud American with a long and rich Lebanese heritage, which means sometimes people think I have a long and rich Mexican heritage.

  • As I agree I disagree… this new law will only provide police to wrongfully detain or haggle legal Hispanics. I would rather they start fining Businesses $500,000 per illegal. If there is no work many illegals will not try why punish those who are trying to come to our country to make a life for themselves.. punish those who want slave labor!!

  • I have no problem whatsoever with legal immigration. But relatives in Arizona tell me illegal immigration is making life down there hell – kidnappings, drugs, fights between rival gangs.

    The French-born husband of a friend of mine tells me he waited 7 years before he was able to get a green card. Rather bitterly, he says the smart thing to do would have to been fly to Tijuana and head north; naively, he followed the rules…

  • Donna,

    It makes me sick when people who don’t, and never have, lived in AZ make long-winded proclamations about this law or the situation down there. They know nothing. They’re the real “know-nothings” of our time, intolerant fanatics or people who are so deluded and ignorant about the realities of the situation that they shouldn’t even have an opinion.

    I won’t stand for it. I’m not the racist. La Raza and MEChA, the Brown Berets, the radical Chicano professors and peddlers of hate speech against blacks and whites, are the racists.

    People who agree with them or apologize for them are the soft bigots. They should be confronted.

    They don’t care that we have a destabilizing failed state to the south that poses a security risk to the country. All they care about is moralizing and grandstanding.

  • Amen Tito and there are many others who feel the same way. I agree with the stiff fine for anyone or any employer who abets an illegal regardless of country. Our Imimgration Dpt is as laxed as can be. I have often wonder why Custons could not work with employers who use migrant labor and have a system for them to enter and be controlled together and then return after work is completed. No benefits other than shelter, meals and pay. It would less expensive than the walls and fences. Mexico’s President was wrong in his statements. Why hasn’t he built industry in the rural areas for his people and created jobs for them. Why does he not tell people that entering Mexico is regared as a felony and carries jail time. What if our law was the same and we jailed imimgrants for jail time and anyone who abets them.. would we then need walls and and fences.

  • La Raza and MEChA, the Brown Berets, the radical Chicano professors and peddlers of hate speech against blacks and whites, are the racists.

    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Alex V.,

    Amen to fining businesses for hiring illegals.

    That would have an immediate impact!

  • I have often wonder why Custons could not work with employers who use migrant labor and have a system for them to enter and be controlled together and then return after work is completed.

    Guest worker programs are socially corrupting. Employers who wish to hire ‘migrant labor’ should be told to hire citizens and lawful settlers willing to work for the wages offered.

  • Guest worker programs are socially corrupting. Employers who wish to hire ‘migrant labor’ should be told to hire citizens and lawful settlers willing to work for the wages offered.

    This recommendation runs contrary to statements of many of our bishops, I believe.

    Concerning an immigration enforcment raid on a North Portland, Oregon food processing plant (in 2007, I think):
    “Portland Archbishop John Vlazny quickly denounced the raid by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, calling it “an affront to a nation whose tradition has always welcomed the stranger.” Calling for a moratorium on raids until national immigration reform is complete, the archbishop said the arrests tear apart families.”
    http://www.catholicsentinel.com/node/8172

    And a more recent statement by Bishop Slattery of Tulsa contained this recommendation:
    “Some way must be found to give the 11-12 million undocumented workers presently in the country some form of legal status. This need not include citizenship and should exclude anyone convicted of a felony.”
    http://www.dioceseoftulsa.org/article.asp?nID=1458

  • Neither statement refers to guest worker programs.

    That aside, both statements as rendered require elaboration.

    Some way must be found to give the 11-12 million undocumented workers presently in the country some form of legal status.

    And why would that be, your eminence?

    Calling for a moratorium on raids until national immigration reform is complete

    Penal codes are flawed. Do we let the muggers have free rein in urban neighborhoods until they are comprehensively repaired?

  • Thank you Messrs. Edwards and Vargas.

    And both of you make your statements, unlike [email protected] bishops spambot quotes and hate-filled libs, without accusing anyone that disagrees of being “the face of evil.”

    Let’s review how many sins against the Ten Commandments are [email protected] bishops endorsing? I make it only four: four, seven, eight and ten.

    And, at their next riot for amnesty, I want Che-worshipping revolutionaries to trot out an American construction worker and his family: whose livelihood was taken by a 12,000,000 undocumented workers and now 25 of them rent the house he lost to foreclosure.

  • Not sure about the Old Testament, but from the New Testament, the bishops often quote Matthew 25:35,
    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,” etc.

    http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/matthew/matthew25.htm#v35

    See, for example, here:
    http://www.usccb.org/mrs/stranger.shtml

  • Concerning Art Deco’s claim that the guest worker program is “socially corrupting”, the bishops have acknowledged there can be social costs associated with the use migrant guest workers. For instance, responding to reform legislation proposed in 2004, the USCCB expressed concern that some provisions would lead to wage erosion, and called for modifications.
    http://www.usccb.org/hispanicaffairs/immigration.shtml

    I have not found an instance where a bishop called for the elimination of guest worker programs.

  • Concerning whether the millions of undocumented workers receive “some form of legal status”, Bishop Wester of Salt Lake City called for legal protection of immigrants’ due-process rights, among other things.
    http://www.sltrib.com/utahpolitics/ci_14135073

    Bishop Hubbard of Albany notes that “Regardless of their legal status, migrants, like all persons, possess inherent human dignity and human rights that should be respected.”
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/BishopHubbardArticle100226.pdf

    As I understand it, the bishops want immigrants to have a legal means of recourse if they are exploited or victimized.

  • As I understand it, the bishops want immigrants to have a legal means of recourse if they are exploited or victimized.

    The persons in question do not have ‘legal means of recourse’ becuase they came here on the q.t. That is a function of the calcuations they made at various junctures with reference to their personal situation. Giving them the benefits of legal status post hoc is not a ‘reform’ of immigration law; it is the abolition of immigration law.

    I have not found an instance where a bishop called for the elimination of guest worker programs.

    So what?

  • How can any honest person interpret “welcome the stranger” as “ignore all laws pertaining to immigration”? Because that’s what the bishops do when they speak out against the enforcement of immigration law.

    To me, “welcome the stranger” means just that – in your midst, you welcome any person who is a stranger. You welcome them with kindness and hospitality. But you don’t clamor for immigration anarchy, or make mealy-mouthed sermons that amount to that implicitly.

    I understand the human reasons often cited for illegal immigration. What I can’t tolerate is the political agitation, the visceral hatred and contempt, that so many seem to have or to at least go along with once they get here for this country and for Anglo Americans. You think its a minority. So did I, until I read about incidents like these. This is what they do in Mexico:

    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/4236314/

    And this is what they do here, in this Snopes-verified incident:

    “On February 15, 1998, the U.S. and Mexican soccer teams met at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Mexican even though most lived in this country. They booed during the National Anthem and U.S. flags were held upside down. As the match progressed, supporters of the U.S. team were insulted, pelted with projectiles, punched and spat upon. Beer and trash were thrown at the U.S. players before and after the match. The coach of the U.S. team, Steve Sampson said, “This was the most painful experience I have ever had in this profession.”

    These are the things that normal Americans see every day, that a lot of over-educated, over-socialized, affluenzaed liberals never do. The plain fact is that a significant portion of the illegal immigrants from Mexico believe that they have a RIGHT to be here. Maybe they’re told that in their own society. Maybe they are told when they get here by the Hispanic versions of the KKK or Neo-Nazis that no one on the left ever talks about.

    But they have a racial and national pride that any white person would be categorized as a Nazi themselves for holding. And they have a hatred for this country and its non-Hispanic inhabitants. This is what they do to the blacks:

    http://www.alternet.org/story/46855/

    “According to Stark, “There is no black gang that encroaches on the 204’s turf. The hate is so prevalent and obvious that activists and city officials can no longer avoid calling it by the name being used by everyone from prosecutors to opinion writers in the L.A. Times: ethnic cleansing.”

    http://thelastgringo.com/serendipity/index.php?/archives/16-LATINOS-ETHNIC-CLEANSING-IN-L.A..html

    When the victims are black, of course, expect at least one conflicted liberal to come down on their side. If they were white, radio silence at best, tacit approval at worst.

    Of course we don’t want to demonize Hispanics. But when I see tens of thousands of Hispanics show up at rallies with swastikas emblazoned on the US or various state flags, I have to wonder, are they saying we’re Nazis, or are they declaring their own race war? Maybe they think Hitler had the right ideas and the wrong race. Or maybe they hate Jews too. Who knows?

  • “For instance my opinion of Mexicans in Mexico has been slowly degraded away over the years. I used to have a whole different opinion of Mexico and its people, but after seeing this continued America bashing by everyday Mexicans over and over my opinion and sympathy for the Mexican’s plight has gone to nearly zero.”

    http://www.diggersrealm.com/mt/archives/002304.html

    Expect a lot more Americans to undergo this change as they learn the truth.

  • Well it is Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant, and their statements urge immigration reform, not abolition of guest worker programs (such as H2-A and H2-B) that I can tell, so I thought I would just point out what I have found and what I have not found in that regard.

  • I’m still waiting for Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Dolan to condemn Mexico’s brutally exclusive immigration laws as “mean spirited” and like “Nazi German” and “Russian communist” techniques.

    I’ll probably be considered someone’s ancestor before that happens.

  • Not one word from the bishops about this:

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bA8Br3_FIRg&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Eradicate the gangs. Treat them like enemy combatants.

  • Well it is Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant,

    I am sorry, what the bishops do not say about the technics of immigration enforcement, the designated hitter rule, trade winds, Mexican cuisine, and any number of other things is not of much interest to me. What they do say as a consequence of fulfilling their duties does interest me. And, of, course, faithful Catholics face the challenge of following the teachings of the Church when they are lost in a sandstorm of verbiage on ancillary matters from the staff of the bishops’ conference and diocesan chanceries.

  • “Standing before a small white coffin, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony said Wednesday that two small girls gunned down last week are martyrs of gang warfare and called on residents citywide to have the courage to rise up against gangs.

    “Mahony delivered the stern words to about 300 mourners attending funeral services for 3-year-old Denise Silva of Boyle Heights. He said each member of the community must take responsibility for escalating gang violence.”
    http://articles.latimes.com/1992-04-16/local/me-934_1_gang-members

    That condemnation of gang violence was from 1992, though the shootings in video was from 2008, so I do not know if that quote will satisfy you or you want something more recent.

  • What they do say as a consequence of fulfilling their duties does interest me.

    Great. I think we are the same page. Now if we only had a quote from a bishop that supports your position I think we can just about wrap this up.

  • Spam,

    So you opposed Health Care Reform because the bishops did?

  • I don’t know about S.pamb.ot, but I’m on the same page as the bishops on both health care and immigration. And I applaud Bishop Olmsted’s affirmation of the excommunication of Sister Margaret McBride as well as his opposition to SB 1070.

  • And I note yet again that the same tactic of opposition to Bishop Olmsted is used by both the Democratic and Republican loyalists.

    From the Democrats/pro-choicers, you hear that Bishop Olmsted just doesn’t understand the realities of the hard choices we must make about women’s health.

    And from the Republicans/conservatives, we hear that Bishop Olmsted just doesn’t understand the realities of how issues of immigration must be addressed.

  • The problem with your analysis is that abortion is an intrinsic evil and can never be justified. While immigraion is a right, it is not an absolute right – the state may limit immigration and enforce those laws including deportation.

    As such, immigration laws are properly the provence of the laity who are called to make such decisions. The bishops present the moral principles which the laity then prudently apply. If the bishops present a plan on immigration, a Catholic in good conscience can disagree.

    The particulars of the abortion case are not clear. But if an abortion was performed, no one may licitly disagree.

  • The bishops present the moral principles which the laity then prudently apply. If the bishops present a plan on immigration, a Catholic in good conscience can disagree.

    Fair enough.

    But it seems to be the case that most conservative Catholics disagree with the bishops whenever a bishop’s position is contradicted by the talking points of the conservative wing of the Republican party. And when the disagreement is voiced by these Catholics, it is usually with ridicule.

    I do wish more Catholics would step out from the boundaries of politics, especially when it comes to morality.

  • I will have to say that bishops’ opinions should be treated with respect. Though Cardinal Mahoney’s comments on the AZ law does deserve contempt.

  • JohnH, Phillip, Art Deco, Greg Mockeridge, Donna V., afl, T. Shaw, and S.pamb.ot,

    While you guys are engaged in good dialogue why don’t you all put up some icon pics for your ID/gravatar?

  • I don’t know how. I’m technologically challenged.

  • So you opposed Health Care Reform because the bishops did?

    Yes. I commented about this briefly at Zippy’s a while back.
    http://zippycatholic.blogspot.com/2010/03/more-funding-for-abortion-is-just.html?showComment=1269530687527#c4629179916212773003

    I’ll leave at that for now to avoid going off topic.

  • Great. I think we are the same page. Now if we only had a quote from a bishop that supports your position I think we can just about wrap this up.

    No, we are not. I am not inhibited from advocating a social policy because my bishop has not pronounced on that specific subject. You have not offered one citation to the effect that an immigration policy which permits settlers but not the issuance of visas to imported servant-laborers is in contradiction to a moral principle articulated by the Church.

    But it seems to be the case that most conservative Catholics disagree with the bishops whenever a bishop’s position is contradicted by the talking points of the conservative wing of the Republican party.

    There is no consensual position on immigration within the Republican Party, much less ‘talking points’.

    The bishops need to elaborate on how the moral and ethical obligations of the faithful are articulated in social policy and how the latter compels lax enforcement of immigration laws, amnesty, &c. If they can actually state things in those terms.

  • I will have to say that bishops’ opinions should be treated with respect.

    I think that is all I really wanted. Not necessarily from anyone one person in particular, but from Catholic sites in general when they examine the Arizona immigration law controversy.

    What do the bishops say and why do they say it? Are the various bishops’ statements generally consistent with each other? Should Catholics feel obligated to line up behind them if they are relatively uniform in their opinion?

    Those are some of the questions on my mind and tried to explore a little here.

  • While you guys are engaged in good dialogue why don’t you all put up some icon pics for your ID/gravatar?

    I am not sure I can get it to work.

  • How to set up a gravatar:

    http://en.gravatar.com/

  • Just want to draw attention to the seriousness of the abuse of migrants in Mexico that Greg refers to and acknowledge that I could not find statements from Catholic bishops on that specific situation.

    http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/widespread-abuse-migrants-mexico-human-rights-crisis-2010-04-27

  • S.pamb.ot hits the nail on the head, so to speak.

    ” . . . Catholic website, so the bishops’ opinions are generally relevant”

    BINGO!!!!

    Opinion.

    I read books on my commute/RR. One book I read was The Republic. Plato said, “Opinion is not truth.”

    I don’t much care about bishops’ opinions unless they jive with the Scriptures and the Pope.

    Especially since the majority voted for Obama in opposition to Pope Benedict’s non-negotiables, I have no reason to blindly accept any bishop’s OPINION.

    FYI Bamspot BUDDY: Check out OT Tobit on not giving alms to evil people. “Better to put your bread on the grave of a just man than . . . ”

    The criminals (tearing at the guts of many communities) are not the least of Christ’s brothers. And, are breaking at least four of the Ten Commandments.

    But, if you must feed them, send them food in their homelands. And, use your money for your charitable acts.

    Those are my opinions and again opinion is not truth.

    I’m a superannuated accountant who has to look up much of the vocabulary you people use. Plus, what is this gravatar thing?

    BTW: Closed comments on the Second Amend. I am perennially banned at a certain so-called catholic website. Seems totalitarianism resides in socialist saints, as much as stalinists and nazis.

    That’s okay. I had completed my post-doctoral field work in proctology at the time they banned me.

  • Shaw,

    “Closed comments on the Second Amend.”

    I hope you aren’t referring to my post. Comments are closed here because I don’t want two discussions. On my personal blog, where you can read the rest of the piece, you can comment to your hearts content.

  • Thank you, T.Shaw. I’ll try to keep all of that in mind.

  • The USCCB on guest worker programs:
    In May [2006], the Senate passed S.2611, which includes the 200,000 new H2-C visas supported by President Bush as well as pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have worked in the country five years or more.

    Earlier this year [2006], the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the enforcement-only House bill and subsequently called the Senate bill [S.2611] “a good start.”

    Among the bishops’ principles for just immigration reform is a guest-worker program that helps unify migrant families and provides a path to earn citizenship.

    “The bishops are not opposed to border security or national sovereignty,” Torres told Our Sunday Visitor. “But they want to balance the right to migration and the dignity of all human beings.”
    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=20754

    Bishop Wenski testifying before a House Subcommittee on Immigration Reform in 2007:
    While we appreciate the inclusion in Title IV of AgJOBS legislation [temporary workers provision of S.1348], we strongly oppose the Title’s adoption of a temporary worker program that does not provide workers with the option of pursuing a path to permanent residency. This could create an underclass of workers in our society who are easily exploitable and without full rights and privileges in the society. We also have misgivings about workers having to return home after two years and remain outside of the country for a year. We fear this may result in some workers choosing to stay illegally.
    Other problems we have in Title IV include its unrealistic requirements for health insurance and minimum income levels, and the reliance on the unrealistic triggers found in Title I of the legislation before the temporary worker program can begin to operate.
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/meh-wenski-adopted-changes.pdf

    The USCCB (again) on the AgJOBS program:
    The U.S. Catholic Bishops support both permanent and, with appropriate protections, temporary visa programs for laborers. However, any such system must adequately protect the rights of workers. Visa costs must be affordable and wages should be sufficient to support a family in dignity. The program ought to provide for family unity and reunification and allow for worker mobility both within the United States and in making return trips to their home country. Labor-market tests should be employed to ensure that U.S. workers are protected. A segment of work visas should be designed to allow laborers to enter the country as legal permanent residents. In allocating such visas, two factors that should be considered are family ties and work history.
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/h2a.shtml

    The USCCB (again) on immigration and border security:
    The Catholic Catechism teaches that in the realm of immigration law all governments have two essential duties, both of which must be carried out and neither of which can be ignored.

    The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.

    The second duty of government is to secure its border and enforce immigration law for the sake of the common good, including the safety and well-being of the nation’s inhabitants and the rule of law.

    The U.S. Catholic Bishops have outlined various elements of their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.

    Future Worker Program: A worker program to permit foreign-born workers to enter the country safely and legally would help reduce illegal immigration and the loss of life in the American desert. Any program should include workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers, and family unity.
    “http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/legal.shtml”

    ~~~~~~~
    From these and other resources, I believe it is fair to conclude that our bishops support issuance of visas to temporary workers as long as legal protections against exploitation and abuse of the workers are provided. This leads me to believe they oppose elimination of the temporary workers programs.

  • An article concerning the USCCB’s position on guest worker programs:
    In May [2006], the Senate passed S.2611, which includes the 200,000 new H2-C visas supported by President Bush as well as pathways to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have worked in the country five years or more.

    Earlier this year [2006], the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed the enforcement-only House bill and subsequently called the Senate bill [S.2611] “a good start.”

    Among the bishops’ principles for just immigration reform is a guest-worker program that helps unify migrant families and provides a path to earn citizenship.

    “The bishops are not opposed to border security or national sovereignty,” Torres told Our Sunday Visitor. “But they want to balance the right to migration and the dignity of all human beings.”
    http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=20754

    Bishop Wenski testifying before a House Subcommittee on Immigration Reform in 2007:
    “While we appreciate the inclusion in Title IV of AgJOBS legislation [temporary workers provision of S.1348], we strongly oppose the Title’s adoption of a temporary worker program that does not provide workers with the option of pursuing a path to permanent residency. This could create an underclass of workers in our society who are easily exploitable and without full rights and privileges in the society. We also have misgivings about workers having to return home after two years and remain outside of the country for a year. We fear this may result in some workers choosing to stay illegally.

    “Other problems we have in Title IV include its unrealistic requirements for health insurance and minimum income levels, and the reliance on the unrealistic triggers found in Title I of the legislation before the temporary worker program can begin to operate.”
    http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/meh-wenski-adopted-changes.pdf

    ~~~(cont’d)

  • The USCCB (again) on the AgJOBS program:
    “The U.S. Catholic Bishops support both permanent and, with appropriate protections, temporary visa programs for laborers. However, any such system must adequately protect the rights of workers. Visa costs must be affordable and wages should be sufficient to support a family in dignity. The program ought to provide for family unity and reunification and allow for worker mobility both within the United States and in making return trips to their home country. Labor-market tests should be employed to ensure that U.S. workers are protected. A segment of work visas should be designed to allow laborers to enter the country as legal permanent residents. In allocating such visas, two factors that should be considered are family ties and work history.”
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/h2a.shtml

    The USCCB (again) on immigration and border security:
    “The Catholic Catechism teaches that in the realm of immigration law all governments have two essential duties, both of which must be carried out and neither of which can be ignored.”

    “The first duty is to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.”

    “The second duty of government is to secure its border and enforce immigration law for the sake of the common good, including the safety and well-being of the nation’s inhabitants and the rule of law.”

    “The U.S. Catholic Bishops have outlined various elements of their proposal for comprehensive immigration reform.”

    “Future Worker Program: A worker program to permit foreign-born workers to enter the country safely and legally would help reduce illegal immigration and the loss of life in the American desert. Any program should include workplace protections, living wage levels, safeguards against the displacement of U.S. workers, and family unity.”
    http://www.nccbuscc.org/mrs/legal.shtml

    ~~~~~~~
    From these and other resources, I believe it is fair to conclude that our bishops support issuance of visas to temporary workers as long as legal protections against exploitation and abuse of the workers are provided. This leads me to believe they oppose elimination of the temporary workers programs.

  • I have heard far more persons discussing that the law is Unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause. The Supremacy Clause forbids state and local laws that contradict federal laws in matters where the federal government has authority to act.
    Once again it only applies in situations where the law contradicts the current law. Arizona’s law requires that State/Local authorities hand over suspect illegals to the proper federal authorities. Maybe you have forgetten (since we haven’t enforced these laws) but it’s still a crime to enter our country illegally.
    But as long as we are talking about Constitutionality let’s talk about the Commerce Clause on the Constitution (Article I, Section 8). This clause prohibits states and localities from passing laws that burden interstate or foreign commerce by, among other things, creating “discriminations favorable or adverse to commerce with specific foreign nations.”
    Boycotting Arizona is UNCONSTITUTIONAL so knock it off already. Also to the Arizona government, how about we step up and actually file suit against these cities?

A Brief Thought on Immigration

Thursday, May 20, AD 2010

Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

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34 Responses to A Brief Thought on Immigration

  • How many come illegally now? Will people be happy with 250k if many more come illegally? Can we treat those who exceed the limit as having violated the law and deport them? Can we take 250k a year now?

  • That’s asking an awful lot from a country that can’t control any aspect of their government? We have another border, to the north, that we don’t seem to have as many issue’s with illegals crossing? Again, there is a right way to become a citizens and an illegal way to be in our country. “IF” we legalize the all the illegals that are currently here, how do we stop the “next” wave of illegals coming in? Has anybody asked that question?

  • This ties in somewhat to points that Radley Balko (of Reason) has been making about immigration. He recently linked to this:

    http://futurity.org/society-culture/drop-in-violent-crime-tied-to-immigration/

    and his thoughts on the border town of El Paso from last year:

    http://reason.com/archives/2009/07/06/the-el-paso-miracle

    It is interesting (given that I live in a town with many illegal immigrants, in a neighborhood with a lot of immigrants, legal or non) to compare the American experience with the more segregated experience immigrants have in Europe.

    European countries also do not have birthright citizenship as an option for immigrants, so there can be non-citizens who were born and have grown up in a country while still being threatened with deportation. Given the essentially underground economy and violence among non-citizens living around the suburbs of Paris and other areas, I don’t think America should repeat the European model here.

  • It looks like the Pew Center has estimated that roughly 275,000 illegal immigrants per year have been entering the US since 2005, with more like 500,000 per year from 2000 to 2005. (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    Part of the theory of setting a large legal quota would be to make it less worth while to accept all the risks that sneaking in currently involves. Since poor non-skilled laborers currently stand almost no chance of getting immigration visas, sneaking in looks good. If they had a good chance of being able to do so legally within a year of applying (and if the process for applying was simple) it seems less likely that people would go to such risk and expense in order to go around the system.

  • So of the 250k per year that come illegally, can we deport them?

  • (That’s from all countries, not just Mexico.)

    My old neighborhood in San Francisco had a very large number of illegal Irish immigrants–mostly doing contracting work, house painting, etc. The local pub had a bulletin board up for under-the-table job postings until the police asked them to take it down.

  • DC

    The issue is not just the number, but the means of access. The difficulty for many is the cost — it is prohibitive for those who are in desperate need. I think we could do things for reform which include:

    1) greater access
    2) various reasons by which the costs can be reduced or waived
    3) work with those lands, such as Mexico, to help reform them so people will feel less need to migrate (I would question the proportionality of using soldiers and war-like methodologies for dealing with the problems, but I think other means, such as economic help, and perhaps some policing — though again with very sensitive elements here — might be possible).

  • In the end we are going to have to have a COMP Soultion. But having a sane guest worker program is going to have to be part of it.

    We used to have a nice pattern of circular migration now not so much

  • You’re using a much more reasonable tone here Henry.

  • Who set the current quota and visa system?

    Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

  • “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates”

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

  • Can we sustain such levels of immigration, especially during a recession?

    I’d think so, especially if it were tied with legal worker visas. Immigrants (legal and non) are responsible for a 10 billion per year boost in the US GDP, according to the report “The New Americans: Economic, Demographic and Fiscal Effects of Immigration.” The problem is being able to tie employment to accurate tax status. According to this:

    http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-05-21/news/17295663_1_illegal-immigration-low-skilled-george-borjas/4

    A recent analysis by investment research firm Standard & Poor’s found that the Social Security Administration receives about $7 billion a year in payroll taxes that can’t be linked to valid names. S&P presumed that most of those funds come from undocumented workers.

    A lot of the problems surrounding large numbers of illegal immigrants come from the inability to collect taxes that support state/city infrastructure. More visas could help that problem.

  • Increased immigration would help pull us out of the recession.

  • First of all,

    Jasper is absolutely right. Darwin, you shouldn’t assume that people are “anti-immigration.”

    To the question:

    “If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?”

    Put aside your parenthetical, which I don’t think can be agreed to in a com-box discussion, and I’d say that we could settle on some number and we would have a deal.

    My top concern is the cartels, the gangs, and the criminals who destroy life, liberty and property through violence related to drugs, prostitution (a massive sex slavery ring – don’t forget about that), and even the damage that is done to private property with no restitution during the journey north.

    At my blog I make that clear – I believe the cartels and the gangs are enemies of civilization and should be completely destroyed. I don’t mince words.

    My secondary concerns are the costs of illegal immigration, which can overburden relatively less wealthy states such as AZ.

    If the common good is really the aim of the state, then it would be immoral and insane for it to promise unlimited quantities of scarce resources, which is what an open borders situation brings about by default. The state has a right and a duty to the citizens to regulate and manage costs and social burdens.

  • Jasper,

    who is ‘anti-immigration’ ? Did I miss something? I thought the law in Arizona applies to illegal immigrants (only if they get stopped for another violation not related to their citizenship status).

    I didn’t realize legal immigrants can be arrested to…

    I hadn’t meant this post to be in direct reference to the AZ law, but rather in reference to concerns about illegal immigration in general. As to the question of whether anyone is “anti-immigration”, I am not going to search for citations at the moment but I’ve fairly often heard fellow conservatives of a populist leaning say, “We need to just seal the borders until we have things sorted out for people who live here, and then we can look at allowing other people in.” I don’t think it would be inaccurate to call that an “anti-immigration” stance. I don’t think that necessarily has to be a value judgment term — if people are right that immigration is bad for the existing population, then they’d be right to be against it.

    I tend to accept that analysis that immigration is a net benefit to our country (a very slight benefit to us, a large benefit to the immigrants, and an overall benefit to the GDP since those people are not producing wealth here rather than elsewhere), but I do see illegal immigration as a source of disorder. I think, however, it’s a pretty naturally expected source of disorder if our immigration quotas are so ridiculously low for the poor nations just to the south of us. I think that by increasing those quotas to a reasonable level (and making the application process simple and inexpensive), we could probably both control our borders, provide a humanitarian benefit, and get a better overall quality of immigrants.

    My thought process here is basically this: right now our restriction on immigration specifically from Mexico is so high that it encourages violation, kind of like Prohibition did. If we made the regulation itself more reasonable by taking it to a more enforceable level, it would probably to be possible to combat many of the evils that people associate with illegal immigration more effectively.

    Baron Korf,

    Who set the current quota and visa system?

    The current quota system was created by congress via the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. It allocated 170,000 visas to the Eastern Hemisphere, with no more than 20,000 per country, and 120,000 visas to the Western Hemisphere, to be given on a first come first served basis. There are an unlimited number of visas issued each year to spouses of American citizens, and a number of administrative quotas for admitting other types of family members of US citizens. The combination of these quotas end up admitting a total of 700-900k of legal immigrants per year from throughout the world.

    I would tend to think that we can sustain such levels in a recession, but if we can’t, unemployment tends to be worst for non-skilled laborers who don’t speak English well, so if we had “too many” legal immigrants from Mexico, I imagine they would just go back south.

  • In a nation where one-in-six is unemployed or under-employed, you conflate the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment with the flagrant war being waged on us by undocumented immigrants, to wit: Today, two of the worthies with automatic weapons killed two police officers.

    I welcome all immigrants who have a sponsor; have a place to live; have a job that they didn’t take from an American; live according to our way of life; pay taxes; obey the laws; learn English; and don’t demand that we hand over our collective life savings, i.e., social security funds, medicare/health care, welfare.

    If socialist saints want to do works of charity: do it with your money not my children’s and my grandchildren’s money.

  • Joe,

    Sorry, I took so long writing my previous I hadn’t seen your comment when I posted.

    It sounds like we’re mostly in agreement — I did indeed pick the numbers out of thin air to make a point, not argue the number specifically.

    As for gangs and cartels — I have no problem with going after them hard, aside from the prudential question as to whether certain means might cause more trouble than benefit.

    T Shaw,

    I really don’t think that immigrants are after anyone’s social security — and come to that, if they work legally they’ll be putting money into it just like everyone else, and doing so for a long time since most immigrants are fairly young. I don’t see why we should deny someone benefits at 65 because they didn’t arrive in the country till they were 30, that’s still paying in for 35 years.

    The real threat to such benefits, to those who treasure them, is that so many native born Americans aren’t having many children. And that the bozos who represent us in congress can’t stop their spending and borrowing spree.

    Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.

  • Perhaps we could deport congress?

    Who would take them? “Give me your tiresome, your boors, your befuddled jackasses…”

  • “Perhaps we could deport congress? I think everyone could support that.”

    To the moon!

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/07/20/lets-send-congress-to-the-moon/

  • Conservatives are fairly comfortable with the point that if you ban or severely restrict guns, than only the criminals will be armed.

    Umm, no. The military will be armed, the police will be armed, and private citizens who meet the criteria specified in law will be armed.

    Let’s then ask ourselves: If we ban or severely restrict immigration (most especially from a right-next-door country with a much poorer economy, such as Mexico) aren’t we assuring that only criminals immigrate?

    Are the social benefits from restricting immigration flows worth the costs? If they are, why is the composition of the pool who manage to evade the authorities of concern? It is a given that there are troublesome people in this world; your aim is to minimize the number at large in keeping with achieving other social goals.

    If it’s cross-border crime which is such a problem, would anti-immigration advocates be willing to support a massively increased legal immigration quota for Mexico (say 250,000 immigrants a year, rather than the current legal quota of ~25,000) in return for permission and cooperation from the Mexican government for US law enforcement and military units to hunt down cross border cartels?

    No. You don’t bargain with foreign governments over whom you allow to settle in your country. If they would like technical assistance from the United States Government to improve their domestic law enforcement, they are not in a position to insist on additional favors as a ‘price’ for receiving benefits. Our government can contain the cross-border cartels by fortifying the border and arresting and incarcerating those who make it across and commit crimes.

    I have a suggestion. Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    To the foregoing you might append an actuarial assessment designed to inhibit the entry of certain types (e.g. unmarried childless post-adolescents from Saudi Arabia).

    You need no national quotas and can do without the paraphanalia of economic planning the Canadian government uses.

  • Anyone anywhere who wishes to settle in the United States can apply at a U.S. Consulate and submit to a written and oral examination in the English language. If they pass the examination, they will be issued a place in a queue and derived from that they will be given a schedule of permissible entry dates depending on how many dependents they acquire in the interim. At such time as their entry date arrives, they are clear to enter the United States as soon as each individual in their family over 14 has passed a written and oral examination in English.

    Ha. If this had been the law 150 years ago, only the Scots side of my family would have been allowed in. (Or maybe not… they were fishermen, and possibly illiterate.) The rest learned English after moving here.

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down. .

  • Has any suggested to our southern border friends that perhaps they need to get their economy in order so that their citizens have employment in their own country. Or perhaps build employmnent opportunities in their rural northern sectors near our borders. And last but not least are any of you aware that illegals entering Mexico face a chagre of a felony ( not a hand slap ) and face prison time. Perhaps we need to respond and make illegal entry a felony with jail time for the illegals and those who hire them or abet them and the fences and wall would come down.

  • Since someone linked George Borjas, a non-brief lecture on the economic costs of immigration – legal and illegal:

  • Statistics show that Spain’s fertility rate is below replacement. This means if Spain does not open its doors to immigrants, it will go down in population. Spain needs immigrants. Mexicans need jobs. This makes sense, both historically and linguistically.

  • Agreed.

    The only real deterrents are:

    The Spanish economy is not so great.
    Spain is harder to walk or drive to from Mexico.

    Unfortunately, these seem to rate rather heavily with many people.

  • I hear you. But what if Spain fixes its economy? And what if Argentina can fix its economy, too? Then we’ll have two countries that will be welcoming, both economically and culturally, to Spanish-speaking immigrants.

  • That would definitely be to the benefit of all concerned.

  • What if Spain fixes its economy? What if Mexico fixes its economy? What if money grew on trees? What if we could time travel?

    Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum. I’d rather have a Spanish-speaking nanny than an English-speaking one. Just secure a job (with a minimum salary requirement if you’d like) and you can come.

  • Guns aren’t quite like folks– you can put away a gun for ages, can’t do that with folks taking jobs under the counter– and I don’t know anyone that’s even close to the gun grabbers on restricting immigration.

    If you put “willing to join America and follow her laws” and “will be able to support themselves and any dependents they bring in a fully legal job” as the immigration version of “not a felon” for guns, sounds fine to me.

    Obviously, this makes illegals on the same level as folks who use illegal guns in a crime, but not my metaphor…..

    Now, I would no more allow a higher quota from Mexico to allow us to enforce our laws than I would support allowing a set number of highly armed gangs in order to be allowed to enforce anti-gun crime laws.

  • Back to reality. I’m against government rationing but if we’re going to ration, we’d be better off letting in the skilled and educated first. They don’t have to speak English. I’d let in a great Chinese chef before a British bum.

    At which point you would render the administration of immigration policy rather rococo and also a department of economic planning on the Canadian model. It is not merely that public agencies lack the information set to predict with any degree of precision the evolution of labor demand. People’s properties and dispositions also change. In addition, when you admit someone, you admit all of their descendants.

    When you admit an immigrant, you admit a settler, who may do any number of things with his life. If you are concerned about the admission of ‘bums’, please recall that their is an assessment done of prospective immigrants which seeks to exclude persons likely to be a ‘public charge’; a simple medical examination might do. Please recall also that the receipt of Social Security retirement benefits requires one have paid payroll taxes for a baseline number of quarters and that the receipt of disability benefits has a like requirement and a secondary requirement that one have spent a threshhold period of time in the workforce over the previous decade. Implementing like requirements for the receipt of any sort of benefit of common provision by immigrants should suffice to limit the immigrant population to a productive population.

    Outside of the Anglosphere, there is going to be some corellation between mastery of English and skills and education, but that is not all that important. Any society takes all kinds. A man from Jamaica who slices corned beef for a living makes his contribution to the common life too.

  • Societies have a ” carrying capacity ” to accept immigration without getting in to serious problems, this carrying capacity is not fixed, as it changes as different circumstances change. I am broadly sympathetic to persons wishing to emigrate to the US from Mexico, even when they would chose to do so illegally. I presume that many of the people who choose to emigrate illegally to the US, do so because they are facing catastrophic financial difficulties in Mexico and were they able to obtain a reasonable income through employment in Mexico, that they would sooner stay in Mexico. If one presumes then that many of the people who are emigrating illegally to the US are economic migrants, it is not unreasonable taking their needs in to account, that for immigration in to the US to be useful to them, they need to have better economic circumstances in the US than in Mexico. There are serious structural problems in the US economy and large inflows of low skilled Mexican workers, regardless of whether it is illegal migration or legal migration, will not solve those problems, it will aggravate those problems. The US needs to build a fence on the US Mexican border and reduce the volume of illegal immigration through that measure. If the fence is effective and I believe it will be, then the numbers of persons to be admitted through the legal immigration process from Mexico could be raised but 250,000 is unrealistically high. A fence will also substantially degrade less sophisticated cross border narcotics smuggling operations.There seems to be a lack of comprehension on the part of the person who wrote the item ” A Brief Thought on Immigration “, that one can be a good person, trying to do good people good and it can all go horribly wrong. There is a real risk that the United States of America could implode or morph in to an Islamic state and engaging in well intended but society stressing immigration policies could encourage such an implosion or morphing in to an Islamic state. It is blatantly obvious that Islamists will attempt to target the Catholic Mexican immigrant community in the US for conversion to highly aggressive interpretations of Islam. If one has immigration from Mexico regardless of whether it is legal or illegal immigration, if the US economy can not give those immigrants possibilities of significant social and economic progress, they are not likely to go home to Mexico but rather stay in the US and become increasingly disenchanted with the USA and Islam in an extreme interpretation will likely seem highly attractive as an ideological / religious model to them.

SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

Wednesday, May 12, AD 2010

I read a comment[1] a few weeks ago on GetReligion.org attempting to explain why John Paul Stevens was the last Protestant in the U.S. Supreme Court which simply said that Catholics and Jews have a tradition of being immersed in law (Canon Law and Halakha respectively for Catholics and Jews as an example).

This struck me as interesting because at first glance it kind of makes sense.

Of course there is much more to why the current make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court, 6 Catholics, 2 Jews, and an Episcopalian, is as it is.[2]

But I thought it was an interesting enough topic to dive into.

Lisa Wangsness of the Boston Globe chimes in with her two cents worth [emphases mine]:

Evangelical Protestants have been slow to embrace, or to feel welcomed by, the elite law schools like Harvard and Yale that have become a veritable requirement for Supreme Court nominees. One reason for this, some scholars say, is because of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism.

As Ronald Reagan would say, there you go again, pushing the liberal theory that Christians are stupid (at least Evangelical Protestants).

Lets get beyond these stereotypes done by liberals to Christians.

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47 Responses to SCOTUS: 6 Catholics, 3 Jews, Law, Scholasticism and Tradition

  • The legalistic traditions would be the most obvious theory but I suspect that it’s too abstract to have this disparate an impact. Besides, sola scriptura is much closer to the originalism of the four conservative Catholic justices. The living Magisterium is more analogous to the living constitution that they reject.

    The anti-intellectual strain within evangelicalism makes sense. Part of it may also be that Catholics make more reliable conservative judges and are therefore more appealing Republican appointees but I bet Catholics are overrepresented in the general lawyer population as well.

    Maybe religion is actually hiding an ethnic cultural difference. The legal field was one of the few fields that was relatively tolerant of Jews which is at least partially why they are overrepresented. Maybe anti-Catholic or anti-immigrant sentiment drove the Irish, Italians, and now the Hispanics into law.

    Maybe religion is hiding a regional difference. Five of the justices are from New York, two from California, and one from New Jersey. New York and California are the two biggest lawyer markets. They also happen to have the largest Catholic and Jewish populations. I can’t speak for California, but every ambitious New Yorker wants to be either a lawyer or a banker (another field where Jews, and maybe Catholics, dominate).

    Maybe Catholics and Jews can’t be lumped together. Maybe Jews are overrepresented for historic reasons and Catholics for religious reasons.

    Protestants do have their colleges, seminaries, and Bible study groups, similar to those of Catholics.

    But their emphasis is very different. I’ve heard one Protestant accuse Catholics of being too mechanical in their religious studies.

    Ironic that people got all hot and bothered when the fourth and fifth nominees for the SCOTUS were Catholic’s thus over-representing Catholics in the Judicial branch. But somehow the secularists are excited that the current nominee, Elena Kagan, a Jew, would make SCOTUS 1/3 Jewish.

    They were hot and bothered because Roberts and Alito were conservative Catholics. They had no problem with Sotomayor.

  • Let’s get beyond liberals. Liberals only have insults and lies; and fabricated/imagined crises meant to “grease the skids” for their destructive policy “solutions.”

    If we don’t stop Obama and his horde of liberal idiots (I repeat myself) in congress, and soon the Judiciary, they will cause a degree of economic devastation from which the private sector may never recover.

    Then, they will have succeeeded in making us all serfs, which was their (the two or three that aren’t gays/lesbians/puppy-lovers/morons) plan all along.

  • I take issue with the notion that the conservative justices’ approach is similar to “sola scriptura” and that the “living Constitution” approach is analogous to the living Magisterium.

    Instead, I would say the two approaches to the Constitution are rather more like the difference between how a traditionalist Catholic and a Voice-of-the-Faithful Catholic view the Magisterium.

    Conservative jurisprudence does not reject development in the law; conservative jurisprudence recognizes that the world today is different from the world 200 years ago and that matters will arise that were completely outside the imagination of the Framers. However, conservative jurisprudence also recognizes that developments in the law (1) are better suited to be addressed by legislative bodies rather than courts, and (2) to the extent the courts must develop constitutional doctrine to meet modern challenges, the development must be (a) an organic extension of the rights and values traditionally held by society and (b) be bound to the text of the Constitution as originally enacted and intended by the Framers.

    Justice Scalia famously discussed this view in the Michael H. case, in which a putative father (from an extra-marital affair) sought to use the Court’s “substantive due process” jurisprudence (see, e.g., Griswold and Roe) to overturn a state’s codification of Mansfield’s Rule, which protects the children of a marriage from outside claims of paternity. Scalia, in his majority opinion, attempted to limit the extension of “substantive due process” to those instances where society had traditionally protected such rights:

    1. The § 621 presumption does not infringe upon the due process rights of a man wishing to establish his paternity of a child born to the wife of another man.

    […]

    (b) There is no merit to Michael’s substantive due process claim that he has a constitutionally protected “liberty” interest in the parental relationship he has established with Victoria, and that protection of Gerald’s and Carole’s marital union is an insufficient state interest to support termination of that relationship. Michael has failed to meet his burden of proving that his claimed “liberty” interest is one so deeply imbedded within society’s traditions as to be a fundamental right. Not only has he failed to demonstrate that the interest he seeks to vindicate has traditionally been accorded protection by society, but the common law presumption of legitimacy, and even modern statutory and decisional law, demonstrate that society has historically protected, and continues to protect, the marital family against the sort of claim Michael asserts.

    Scalia explains further:

    In an attempt to limit and guide interpretation of the Clause, we have insisted not merely that the interest denominated as a “liberty” be “fundamental” (a concept that, in isolation, is hard to objectify), but also that it be an interest traditionally protected by our society. [Footnote 2] As we have put it, the Due Process Clause affords only those protections “so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental.” Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U. S. 97, 291 U. S. 105 (1934) (Cardozo, J.). Our cases reflect “continual insistence upon respect for the teachings of history [and] solid recognition of the basic values that underlie our society. . . .” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U. S. 479, 381 U. S. 501 (1965) (Harlan, J., concurring in judgment).

    This insistence that the asserted liberty interest be rooted in history and tradition is evident, as elsewhere, in our cases according constitutional protection to certain parental rights. Michael reads the landmark case of Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U. S. 645 (1972), and the subsequent cases of Quilloin v. Walcott, 434 U. S. 246 (1978), Caban v. Mohammed, 441 U. S. 380 (1979), and Lehr v. Robertson, 463 U. S. 248 (1983), as establishing that a liberty interest is created by biological fatherhood plus an established parental relationship — factors that exist in the present case as well. We think that distorts the rationale of those cases. As we view them, they rest not upon such isolated factors but upon the historic respect — indeed, sanctity would not be too strong a term — traditionally accorded to the relationships that develop within the unitary family. [Footnote 3] See Stanley, supra, at 405 U. S. 651; Quilloin, supra, at 434 U. S. 254-255; Caban, supra, at 441 U. S. 389; Lehr, supra, at 463 U. S. 261. In Stanley, for example, we forbade the destruction of such a family when, upon the death of the mother, the State had sought to remove children from the custody of a father who had lived with and supported them and their mother for 18 years. As Justice Powell stated for the plurality in Moore v. East Cleveland, supra, at 431 U. S. 503:

    “Our decisions establish that the Constitution protects the sanctity of the family precisely because the institution of the family is deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.”

    Thus, the legal issue in the present case reduces to whether the relationship between persons in the situation of Michael and Victoria has been treated as a protected family unit under the historic practices of our society, or whether, on any other basis, it has been accorded special protection. We think it impossible to find that it has. In fact, quite to the contrary, our traditions have protected the marital family (Gerald, Carole, and the child they acknowledge to be theirs) against the sort of claim Michael asserts. [Footnote 4]…

    That’s hardly a “sola scriptura” approach to jurisprudence and, in fact, I would argue that Scalia was relying upon his own Catholic understanding of the Magisterium in formulating that approach.

  • Thanks, Jay, for beating me to it. I owe you.

  • Ditto what Mike said. I’ve written that comment before (although probably not as well).

  • Three comments:

    First, I would not dismiss the existence of an anti-intellectual strain within evangelical Protestantism as mere liberal rhetoric. Certainly there is some of that, but the anti-intellectualism in evangelical Protestantism is well documented, especially by scholars such as Mark Noll, who is himself an evangelical Protestant. It is a part of evangelical Protestantism that many adherents are putting aside, but its historical existence could be a factor.

    Second, we can’t ignore social trends. Mainline Protestantism has been declining in numbers and influence for some time. The lack of mainline Protestants that “percolate up” to the upper echelons of the law is a consequence of that. At the same time, Catholic numbers and influence increased during the same decades. Also, Catholics and Jews during the last century emphasized education, assimilation, and becoming part of the “establishment.” That too, had implications. I would expect the same to happen with evangelical Protestants in the decades to come.

    Third, both Jewish and Catholic teaching has not emphasized, as much as mainline Protestants, a radical separation of church/state and politics/religion. Mainline Protestants, some have argued, emphasized it so much that they made religion irrelevant in the public square.

  • It’s not a perfect fit but there are elements of originalism that more closely resemble sola scriptura. Sola scripturists would also agree that the world is different today. Jay, I don’t think anything you said is inconsistent with sola scriptura.

    It’s funny you mention Michael H. I was just rereading my notes on the case a few days ago. None of the justices objected to Scalia’s view to traditional rights. Brennan’s dissent also looks to traditional rights. But a majority didn’t join Scalia’s footnote 6 for a very different reason. I, along with most the justices, think he’s wrong in his application, if not his approach. Contrary to his assertion that broader classes are more susceptible to conflicting interpretations, Scalia’s approach allows judges to pick conflicting specific classes. Scalia puts Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers.” One can also place him in the class of “biological fathers.”

  • No, Scalia does not place Michael H. in the class of “cheating fathers”; he places him in the class of those who society and the law don’t want breaking up intact families by challenging the paternity of the children within those families. He’s unwilling to create out of whole cloth a “fundamental right” to do something that society has not traditionally seen fit to give sanction.

    And while one may also place Michael H. in the class of “biological fathers”, that says absolutely nothing regarding the “fundamentalness” of his “right” to have Mansfield’s Rule struck down as unconstitutional. And that’s what’s at stake. The liberal would throw out a centuries old common law rule over some imagined “fundamental right” to claim the child of an intact marriage as one’s own. That’s not akin to a “development of doctrine” – that’s changing the rules to suit one’s own personal view of how the law SHOULD be and fits more in line with how the VOTF crowd view the Magisterium.

  • Furthermore, the reason the “sola scriptura” analogy is inapt is because it an ahistorical reading of how originalists have actually behaved on the Court.

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    The originalist, in contrast, doesn’t reject authority or tradition or developments in the law that have occurred in the intervening years since the founding. The originalist doesn’t seek to “refound” the American republic as it existed in 1787. In fact, the originalist approach to jurisprudence is actually quite limited in scope by comparison to the Protestant Reformation and the approach of the “sola scriptura” practitioner.

  • Jay,

    Protestants whose approach to religion is based on “sola scriptura” reject authority and tradition as having any sway over how they apply their Faith to their lives. They reject developments in doctrine (even while unconsciously accepting such developments as the Trinity and the compilation of the Bible itself). The “sola scriptura” mindset – especially when it is of the fundamentalist variety – is a back-to-the-basics approach with only the Bible and the Holy Spirit as a guide.

    Thanks for fleshing out what I said in one sentence.

    I’m no law expert nor a lawyer, but I too could see that sola scriptura was an impediment towards doctrinal development for Protestants.

    And with that, originalsim and sola scriptura have no similarities with the respect to doctrinal development.

    Also appreciated your first comment as well…

  • Finally, let’s be honest about why those Catholics opposed to Constitutional originalism try to stigmatize it with the taint of “sola scriptura”: they know that most Catholics, especially conservative ones, take a dim view of “sola scriptura” in the context of theology, so they use the analogy to paint Catholic constitutional originalists as unthinking (in relying on the same intellectually inferior practice as protestant fundamentalists) and/or hypocritical (in doing to the Constitution what they criticize the protestants for doing to Christianity).

    The problem, as I’ve noted above, is that the analogy is inapt. But it is inapt not only because it fails to describe what originalists actually believe and how they actually behave, but because it is a comparison of two completely different institutions established for two completely different reasons and under two completely different sets of circumstances.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

  • Jay, I see that you are anticipating in advance the charge of being trapped in a Calvinist (and very Protestant) dualism by virtue of defending originalism. But you cannot escape; in order for the intellectually cramped Calvinist-Catholic dualistic system to work, any disagreement must be described as an outgrowth of individualism/Calvinism/liberalism.

  • Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    I am not sure how true that is. I have friends and co-workers who are evangelicals that went to Harvard Law, and the Christian (not Catholic) law student group at my school (t-10 or so) was fairly sizable and active. But, of course, these anecdotes don’t really add up to data. You could be right about the general trend.

  • I’d consider myself a Catholic originalist. Sola scriptura (or some weak version of it) can be an perfectly defensible way to interpret the Constitution but not Scripture.

    Originalists reject any develop of new doctrines not grounded in the law as understood at the time of its enactment. They accept tradition only up to the point of enactment. They do not accept the idea that later traditions that could not reasonably be anticipated, can add to the law. On the other hand, Catholics accept that later traditions can add to existing “law” in ways that could not reasonably have been anticipated.

    Even the process of development differs. Originalists reject abstract unifying doctrines and prefer to judge new situations as fitting or not fitting into specific laws or enumerated rights. Catholics, I would argue, work in the opposite direction. Starting with abstract unifying doctrines (e.g., dignity of man), then judging whether the situation falls within an exception (e.g., double effect).

    As for the Michael H. sidetrack, Jay, you demonstrate exactly why Scalia’s methodology is wanting (I’d like to note that this is a different argument than the one over originalism). I described Scalia’s classification of Michael H. as a “cheating father.” You described it as “someone trying to break up a stable family.” Which one are we supposed to use? You also dismissed the implications of classifying Michael H. as simply a “biological father.” Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children. An appeal to tradition doesn’t work here because both sides can, and did, argue it. If Scalia’s methodology is correct, it’s incomplete, at the very least.

  • Centinel, you wrote:

    Evangelical Protestants who take their faith seriously go to any law school they can find that’s conducive to their faith. Catholics just go to the highest-ranked school that will take them – even if that school is not particularly religious. Of course, I am speaking in general terms.

    That goes beyond generalization, friend. Generalization, philosophically, means abstracting a feature true of each instance of a class, e.g., “Houses have roofs.” Generalization, popularly speaking, means abstracting a feature true of most or even many instances of a class, e.g., “The students at Catholic University are Catholics.”

    What you’ve managed to do is pluck out of a bag of prejudices and biases a dazzling example of complete ignorance EXCEPT of perhaps one or two cases that you know, and a few more that you know of.

    I am close friends with a woman who, as an Evangelical, went to Yale Law School because it was “the highest-ranking school that would take” her, to use your words. Not too shabby. Granted, it’s not the University of Barbados, but I suppose Yale Law will do for her sort. She’s a Catholic now, though. Did you know that there are numerous law schools at Catholic universities bursting at the seams with… all sorts of people?

    Do you think it possible that Catholics might be serious about their faith and go to a law school conducive to it?

    Do you think it possible that an Evangelical might be serious about his faith and yet go to an ungodly school bearing in mind that it is not the law school’s job to nurture his faith, and that he will continue to seek spiritual nourishment through the means he always has – prayer, reading the scriptures, attending a good church?

    C’mon. Your “observation” was entire facile.

  • “Traditionally, biological fathers have rights over their biological children.”

    Not biological fathers who aren’t married to the child’s mother. That’s a very recent development.

  • And I’m sure you’ll say that my last comment illustrates your point about classifications.

    But there will always be classifications when talking about defining rights under the Consitition. The key is to find the classification that does the least amount of damage to the constitutional order, and this is done by limiting the interference of the judiciary into the democratic process by defining the “fundamental right” narrowly enough as not to remove a broad category of activities from democratic oversight (not to mention creating out of whole cloth “rights” that have no basis in the text of the Constitution).

    Scalia’s appeal to tradition is to look at the behavior that society has traditionally valued and protected and determine whether the particular case before the Court meets – with specificity – the activity society has sought to protect.

    The liberal will look at “tradition” and try to broadly define the activity that is “fundamental” to ordered liberty so as to include as much activity as possible and remove it from the democratic process. Thus, Brennan et al looked at Michael H. as a “biological father”, and relying on some very recent precedent (and ignoring other recent precedent – i.e. that “biological fathers” have very few if any rights when abortion and birth control are at issue), tried to make the argument that he had a “fundamental right” to interfere in the inner workings and relationships of an intact family unit.

    What’s “traditional” about that? Nothing. Maintaining Mansfield’s Rule was based on tradition – the tradition of protecting the family, as society has sought to do for generations. The Court’s “fundamental rights” jurisprudence – of very recent vintage – regarding a biological father’s “reproductive rights”, not so much.

  • While not remotely an expert on law, the sociological/historical aspect interests me in regards to biological fathers’ right. It seems to me that the accurate characterization would be that in Western Culture, a biological father can assert paternity rights over illegitimate offspring by effectively “legitimizing” or recognizing them. This, however, assumes that the illegitimate offspring are otherwise simply “fatherless” and unacknowledged.

    The rights of the pater familias as a husband typically include having paternal rights over all children he chooses to acknowledge. So if his wife bears a child which is not, in fact, his, he can effectively make the child his by acknowledging the child as his regardless of actual paternity.

    The idea that a biological father could assert paternity rights over a child he fathered on a married women over the objections of her husband (who is willing to raise the child as his own) would be distinctly un-traditional.

  • Darwin,

    You’re right. It IS distinctly un-traditional. And for over 200 years, under Lord Mansfield’s Rule, such claims cannot be heard.

    Okay, I realize I’ve dominated this thread, so just one last thing on the classifications in Michael H. and how they relate to “tradition”:

    As Restrained Radical notes, both Scalia and Brennan appealed to “tradition” in reaching opposite conclusions in the case. However, a closer examination of the arguments and what respective “tradition” was being sought to be preserved by the opposing Justices, will reveal that one of the Justices was ACTUALLY concerned with remaining faithful to and preserving an established tradition, while the other Justice’s feigned appeal to “tradition” was a complete load of BS from one of the most successful bu11$h**tters who ever sat on the Supreme Court.

    Let’s start off with the fact that the rights of “biological fathers” – the “tradition” to which Justice Brennan appealed – are, as I noted above, a recent development in the law, and there is no long-standing “tradition” of “biological fathers” having legal rights over their offspring outside the context of the marital relationship. Even the parental rights of divorcing parents have always been based on the fact that the parents were married in the first place.

    So, let’s dispense with Brennan’s nonsensical claim that he was appealing to “tradition” and cut right to the chase. Were one to follow his constitutional jurisprudence to its logical conclusion, here’s Bill Brennan’s take on the “rights” of biological fathers:

    * A “biological father” has absolutely NO LEGAL RIGHTS to protect the life of his child should the mother choose to abort the child; HOWEVER …

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” to interfere in an intact marital family relationship by asserting paternity over a child born inside that marriage should the mother choose to raise the child with her husband.

    * A “biological father” has a “fundamental constitutional right” that overrides an over-200-year-old common law rule – a common law rule known to and explicitly accepted by the drafters of the Constitution – meant to protect marriages from outside attack and children from bastardization.

    That’s Bill Brennan’s definition of “tradition”.

    On the other hand, under Justice Scalia’s approach, here is the state of the law:

    * an over-200-year-old common law rule that was on the books at the time of this Nation’s founding is preserved;

    * the sanctity of the marital family unit is preserved from outside interference by claims from a stanger to that marriage that he is, in fact, the father of a child born to that marriage;

    * the original intent and meaning of the text of the Constitution is preserved from the violence done to the constitutional order whenever a newly created “fundamental right” is used to strike down as “unconstitutional” a law that was fully known to and explicitly acctepted by those who drafted the Constitution.

    Now, which one of those approaches is TRULY concerned with tradition?

  • Personally, I always thought the tradition of offering sympathy to orphans should have helped the Menendez brothers

    😉

  • Jay, your putative domination of this thread has enriched it, and is greatly appreciated at least by me.

  • Agreed, I’ve enjoyed your explanation on this stuff, Jay.

  • I spend the day in Bankruptcy Court and Jay leaves me nothing to say in regard to Constitutional interpretation. Rats! Ah well, I will merely say ditto to what Jay wrote and what Scalia says below:

  • Donald,

    I liked his Chestertonian quote:

    “Some worth doing, is worth doing terribly.”

    Or something to that effect.

  • I should’ve stated this early but I don’t necessarily disagree with the outcome of Michael H. And I do think originalism is the proper method of analysis (while I still maintain this is closer to sola scriptura). I only take issue with Scalia’s method of abstraction outlined in footnote 6. He defines classes that need not be defined in that way.

    Jay & Darwin, it all depends on how you’re defining the tradition and the specific case. The children of a married woman have traditionally been presumed to be the biological children of the husband. Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.

    Again, I’m not saying that’s right. Only that the very existence of what I think is an alternative reasonable interpretation, undercuts Scalia’s approach.

  • Don, that was a great vid. It would be interesting to see a liberal originalist on the court. Lawrence Lessig, a liberal and a broad originalist, says Kagan thinks as he does. I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer. Perhaps even more important than overturning Roe is changing the way liberals view abortion.

  • “Is Lord Mansfield’s Rule designed to protect the husband or the biological father? In the absence of DNA testing, it would seem that it protects the biological father (usually the husband) from spurious paternity claims. Therefore, it appears tradition protects the rights of the biological father. Modern technology has eliminated the need for blunt evidentiary rules.”

    I suppose it provides an alternative interpretation to Scalia’s, but it is one that I believe to be ahistorical.

    The historical record will bear out that Lord Mansfield was primarily concerned with the children of marriages not being made bastards, which is a matter wholly unconcerned with determining actual biological paternity. In fact, it was an objective that was often in direct conflict with determining such.

    Preserving intact marital family units from such challenges was not for the purpose of ensuring that the husband’s factual biological paternity was protected from spurious outside claims, but rather to ensure that children were not delegitimized. For that reason, the law created an irrebuttable presumption that the children of a married woman were the legitimate children of her husband.

  • I suppose, from a sociological point of view, a lot has to do with how you interpret the purpose of established cultural norms. It seems to me that the purpose would clearly be that a pater familias be able to determine who he wants to call his children. If he want to acknowledge children he had by a woman other than his wife, he can. If he want to refuse to acknowledge those children, he can. And when his wife bears children he can either acknowledge them, or repudiate his wife and deny them.

    All this sounds rather negative and “patriarchal”, but it also has the effect of making the direct and extended family strong against outside assaults. Good or bad, though, I think it’s hard to deny that it’s “traditional”.

  • “I doubt it but if true, not only would Kagan be the most influential justice, it would also alter the course of American jurisprudence. I’ve believed that the best kind of judicial nominee would be a liberal pro-lifer.”

    I doubt restrainedradical that Kagan will be anything but an orthodox political liberal on the bench. However, the fact that she has no judicial experience on the bench should give her backers pause. Felix Frankfurter, the great advocate of judicial restraint, was a fairly conventional political liberal before he was appointed to the Supreme Court by FDR without judicial experience. Things can look quite differently after one dons the black robe, especially with a life time appointment, and Kagan, perhaps, could end up surprising everyone.

  • I would be astonished if Kagan does not prove to be “anything but an orthodox political liberal” cleverly legislating from the bench whey “necessary.” But I’m prepared to be astonished, and certainly hope that I am.

    In any event. I hope the confirmation process is a smooth one. I’m all for hardball politics, but Kagan is qualified and that should be the end of it. The Dems viciously changed the rules with Bork, and I believe that the temperament within the Senate has never been the same. I’d like to see the Republicans avoid scoring political and polemical points and just plain do the right thing.

  • I agree Mike that the Kagan nomination is not the one for the Republicans to put up a fight on, but one of the main reasons why the Democrats routinely engage in scorched earth tactics in regard to Republican judicial nominees is because the Republicans routinely fail to do the same to Democrat nominees.

  • Fair enough, Don, but it is worth remembering that both Roberts and Alito got through without the Dems resorting to scorched earth practices, which is not to say that they behaved perfectly. I’d rather try to ratchet the practices back to how they are supposed to work. I acknowledge that it is a judgment call as to whether exhibiting good behavior or returning bad behavior is the most effective way to do that.

  • In regard to Alito Mike the Democrats tried but failed to filibuster his nomination. The final vote for his confirmation was 58-42 which is astounding if one of the chief criteria is supposed to be judicial comptence.

    Obama of course voted against confirmation for both Roberts and Alito, two of the best qualified jurists ever nominated to the Supreme Court.

  • Forgot that, Don, thanks. I’d still support Kagan’s nomination, but would also score points by emphasizing the contrast between her treatment and that of Alito, and get lots of digs against Obama for voting against Alito and Roberts.

  • Roberts was confirmed 78–22. He got far more Democratic votes than Sotomayor got Republican votes. Alito had the misfortune of being second. Kagan has the same problem.

  • Wow. Such deep arguments!

    Still, I think a lot of folks are overthinking this situation. A president seeking a pro-life perspective on the high court appoints a Catholic. Another president seeking some pro-life cover also appoints a Catholic. Presidents who seek a reliably pro-abortion leftist or wish to appease leftist elements of their party often appoint a Jew.

  • Restrained Radical,

    There’s no comparison, democrats are far more emotional and vindictive when it comes to voting against well-qualified judges that happen to seem conservative.

    Case in point, Robert Bork who lost the nomination 42-58.

  • The Bork confirmation process was unprecedented. It broke with longstanding Senate tradition, and frankly the Senate has not been the same since. The Dems broke the rules and lied shamelesslessly while doing it. Mutual rancor, payback, and distrust have been the order of the day since.

    While not unopinionated, I am not given to immoderate commentary. In fact I sign my real name as a matter of self-discipline. But let there be no misunderstanding or doubt: Joe Biden made his bones in the Bork hearings and behaved like a consummate dirtbag. I expected such dishonest behavior from the cowardly Senator from Massachusetts, but this was when Biden showed his true character colors.

    Finally, let’s be clear. When the Left decides to play hard ball, you can ususally count on the subtext being their sacrament of abortion. It started with Bork and Palin has been the most recent manifestation.

  • Bork and Thomas are outliners. People like Bork with long controversial paper trails don’t get nominated anymore. And Thomas had to deal with Anita Hill. I don’t think either party has a monopoly on outrage. As I noted before, Roberts had an easier confirmation than Sotomayor who in turn will have had an easier confirmation than Kagan. I predict Kagan’s confirmation to be similar to Alito’s. Four Democrats voted for Alito. I predict 2 or 3 Republicans will vote for Kagan (Snowe, Collins, and maybe Brown).

  • It’s a straw man.

    Bork had the most difficult.

    You can continue to apologize for your democratic party, but facts are facts.

  • While, I do not disagree with the overall thesis expressed herein. I find the characterization of Reform and Hasidic Judaism to be off the mark. I contend that the divisions within Judaism that they represent a division with Judaism but that these division were the result not of dogmatic differences.

    Rather I view the divisions within Judaism as being similar to the differences that exist between religious orders with Catholicism.

    In the sense that each religious order agrees on the truth of the dogma espoused by universal church, their missions differ,and as a result there may exist minor differences within their devotions and practice.

  • Nathan Zimmermann,

    I would like to default to your position because I know very little about Judaism.

    But when I see “conservative” and “reform” Jews advocate for the death of the unborn in absolute violation of the Ten Commandments and then I see “orthodox” Jews express identical views with Catholics and stand up for the unborn, then your analogy does not seem to fit that of Catholic religious orders.

    Catholic religious orders differ in mission, but adhere completely to the teachings of the Church.

    I don’t believe your analogy falls into that category with all due respect.

  • Mr. Edwards,

    I based my analogy upon my experiences and interactions with the aforementioned communities within my native city where even the conservative and reform Jews tend to be more conservative and pro-life.

  • If the Republicans wish to Bork a nominee Solicitor General Kagan’s nomination may be the best opportunity. If President Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland, the ability of the Republicans to Bork the nominee would have proved less tenable because, Judge Garland’ nomination was openly advocated by Senator Hatch.

    As addendum to my two previous posts, and to throw a fox into a hen-house. While there is no doubt of the universal church on the subject of abortion and euthanasia, eugenics and Darwinism.

    It should be noted that there existed a split with the church on the subject of eugenics and Darwinism during the 1920s and 1930’s as is evident in the writings of Rev. Hermann Muckermann, the elder brother of Rev. Friederich Muckermann SJ.

  • Nathan:
    There has never been a split regarding either Darwinism or eugenics in Church teaching properly understood The fact that some Catholic priests and theologians have favored abortion rights, for instance (which of course is still the case) does not in any way impair the fact that the Magisterium has remained consistent, even as it develops.
    I have countless Jewish friends. Sadly I know none who consider themselves of the Reform stripe who favor laws forbidding abortions, even though I know many who claim they themselves would not abort a child.

What If A Law Can't Be Enforced?

Monday, May 3, AD 2010

The discussions here about Arizona’s new attempt at enforcing immigration law have set me thinking about a more general question: What should we do as a body politic in a situation in which a law we have passed seems impossible to enforce?

In a sense, no law is enforced perfectly. Cannibalism is against the law, yet it does still, on rare occasions, happen that someone kills and eats someone else. We don’t generally describe this as the laws against cannibalism “not being enforced”. Rather we describe it as someone breaking the law.

When we talk about a law not being enforced, we generally mean that a lot of people are breaking it, and yet few of them seem to be suffering the consequences. Thus, although murders take place on a daily basis in our country, we generally do not hear complaints that no one is enforcing the laws against murder, since we at least see the police and prosecutors going through the process of trying to arrest and prosecute people for those crimes.

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44 Responses to What If A Law Can't Be Enforced?

  • While staggering amounts of resources are devoted to enforcing both of these

    For the record, the sum of appropriations for Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement is under $20 bn, or 0.12% of domestic product. I read an interview with a lapsed INS agent some years ago wherein he stated that (ca. 1990), that agency had all of seven (7) agents in the five boroughs of New York tracking down those who had overstayed their visas. Can we please build that cement wall on the southern border?

  • Thank you DC. It’s frightening that we agree lately. It must be the issues…

  • To answer the primary question, whether the enactment of a law is prudent turns on a number of factors, but one important one is enforceablilty. If a law is generally ignored because it is impractical to punish violators, then it is probably an imprudent law.

    As a related matter, however, it is important to have a proper understanding of enforcement. In general, enforcement efforts are focused on apprehending violators, not preventing crime. In this sense I think it is very mistaken to suggest that our narcotics laws are not enforced. We may have widespread violations, but we have widespread enforcement as well — just look at our justice and prison systems. If we chose not to enforce these laws, the use of narcotics would be far more widespread — see Holland.

    This is equally true of cannibalism. I’m unaware of any widespread problem, but if instances surface so will criminal prosecutions.

    Illegal immigration is a bit different. Most people agree that it is not impractical to police our borders. Most other first world nations do it without much difficulty. The fact that our government chooses not to is scandalous. Apprehending illegals who are already here is far tougher, however, and general success would require prodigious resources and aggressive tactics that many Americans would find discomforting. Plainly, other options must be explored. But simply accepting widespread flouting of the law with no meaningful enforcement is unhealthy for a society. It breeds disrespect for the rule of law, and the respect for the rule of law is a cornerstone of a prosperous and free society.

  • Most people agree that it is not impractical to police our borders. Most other first world nations do it without much difficulty. The fact that our government chooses not to is scandalous.

    Well, we do have 20,000 border patrol agents — that’s not so much choosing not to as trying and failing. I’m sure that we could put more resources into border enforcement, and I’m sure we could use the ones we have more efficiently, but at the same time, it strikes me as unlikely that we can have such an incredibly large border with Mexico, with so much legal travel and trade going on, and not have a fair amount of illegal immigration if we insist on having a fairly low immigration quota.

    I may be missing something, but I can’t think of any other first world nations which share such a long border with a country so much relatively poorer than they are. So it doesn’t seem surprising to me that we’d have a lot more trouble enforcing immigration laws than other countries.

  • Drug laws can be enforced very efficiently and many countries do. Just execute all offenders. We can do the same for illegal immigrants. But most of us don’t care to deport our pool cleaners.

    Recreation drug use, underage drinking, speeding, and overstaying your visa are all, more or less, victimless crimes. The vast majority of offenders don’t cause any trouble. Libertarians wouldn’t punish any of them. At the very least the punishment should be minimal. Besides, illegal immigration is a result of restrictive legal immigration policy. It’s akin to Prohibition.

  • I do see some distinction between enforcement of immigration laws and drinking and speeding laws. The latter is a transient condition and the former is not. (I believe it was Churchill who told a woman “You’re ugly.” She replied, with disgust, “You’re drunk.” To which Churchill replied, “You are correct, madam, but in the morning I’ll be sober and you’ll still be ugly.” But I digress.)

    The focus of virtually all commentary on this subject is on people crossing the southern border of the United States. Some attribute this to racism. There may be some people so motivated, but I don’t think that playing the race card really adds anything to the discussion, one way or the other.

    Clearly, to better enforce the law in this geographic area, would require a lot more personnel, many more patrols, etc., probably barbed wire, mines and machine gun towers. Neither party has been willing to establish that budgetary priority. That leads me to suggest that, in the real world of politics, it isn’t going to happen.

    Further, it is my understanding that an estimated 40% of the people here illegally came here legally, perhaps to visit relatives, attend school or just came as “tourists.” They just never left when their visa expired. Not surprisingly, we don’t attach tracking collars to people who come to visit. So how do we “secure our borders” against that?

    The experience with the southern border and the over staying their welcome people suggests to me that “securing our borders” is an illusion, along the lines of “energy independence,” sloganeering about something that can not happen, as an alternative to a serious policy discussion. I don’t think that most Americans are really prepared to do the things that would be necessary to actually do in order to prevent further illegal immigration. We’re talking large numbers of armed enforcement officers, road blocks, “Are you papers in order?” etc.

    Further, even if we could identify, with zero errors, who is here illegally and who is not, and I don’t think that is really feasible, what could we do with them? I have heard estimates ranging from 8 million to 16 million who are here illegally. Are we prepared to forcibly deport 8 million people, breaking up families in some cases? Never mind the economic effect on the communities who employ many of these people. Never mind the mind boggling logistics of moving that many people to “some other” country. I don’t think this is a morally or even politically realistic alternative.

    So where does that leave us?

  • I think, actually, that it’s far easier to make a case for the decriminalization of drugs than it is to make a case for the decriminalization of illegal immigration. If the empirical results of Portugal’s experiment in this arena are any sign, the social ills related to decriminalization are far less than those tied to the status quo: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=portugal-drug-decriminalization

    Also, I think that the decriminalization of drugs would actually *help* the country do something meaningful about immigration, as it would do a lot to lessen the stranglehold over northern Mexico currently enjoyed by the cartels and would subsequently lessen the crime in Arizona, California, and Texas associate with those cartels.

  • Darwin quit talking commomn sense/ I can make the same point on DWI laws. We know they are being enforced. BUT OH GOODENSS THERE ARE DRUNK Drivers on the road!! So they must not be being enforced

    I really encourage people who say the Federal Govt is trying to do nothing to get on twitter. A few weeks ago everyone was aghast on the left that Obama was deporting people left and right.

    Again this is a lot more complicated than people on either side will realize

  • Patrick

    As too Machine gun towers does that mean you think its proper to machine gun these people down?

  • This is not that difficult.

    The border with Mexico is a shade under 2,000 miles long. Build a cement wall, decorate it with razor wire, add observation towers, and hire ~15,000 guards working in shifts and equipped with firearms and optical equipment to police it. That will force turnstile jumpers to make use of one of the several score lawful crossing points, where the 20,000 agents made reference to above can apprehend them (and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers).

    Once you have apprehended them, take them in front of a justice of the peace and thence off to a forty day stint in solitary confinement in a federal jail dedicated to these purposes. During that stay, you can collect identifying information from your subject and put it in a databank. At the end of his forty days in the cooler, deport him. If he returns, its sixty days in jail.

    You hire 15,000 border guards, a few thousand court functionaries, and some thousands more prison staff and make the associated capital investments and you have resolved that component of the problem of illegal immigration. If it be worth it to you.

  • “and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers). ”

    I know you are being sarcastic but sdaly too many would be fine with this

  • You hire 15,000 border guards, a few thousand court functionaries, and some thousands more prison staff and make the associated capital investments and you have resolved that component of the problem of illegal immigration. If it be worth it to you.

    An even simpler approach would have no additional costs at all: We could declare the entire country to be a prison and announce that we have now imprisoned all illegal immigrants.

  • Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration. Just the threat of such prosecution would eliminate most of the jobs that illegal aliens are currently hired to do. No jobs, no illegal aliens.

  • “Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration. Just the threat of such prosecution would eliminate most of the jobs that illegal aliens are currently hired to do. No jobs, no illegal aliens.”

    Why does everyome think this is all HIGH priced CEOS and big companies. After Katrina there were a lot of ordianry people that got their home repairs and in fact Parishes Levees reparied because of illegals. They were the only work force

    In case people have not noticed we have a huge Crisis on the Coast and from whqat I hearing we having problems filling jobs that are paying around 15 dollars a hour. Guess what illegals will fill it and no one complain since out lievehood is at stake. Should people with oyster leases get felonies because they got to get people to stop the oil from coming in

  • As Milton Friedman once noted, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Every dollar spent on immigration enforcement is one dollar less to be spent on ordinary law enforcement, healthcare, education, etc. The question ought to be not whether the law should be enforced or not (since as Darwin notes enforcement is not a binary question) but at what point spending more on border security costs more than it is worth. Given that even conservative estimates are that immigration is a net benefit to the U.S. economy (of approx. $20 billion a year), I would suggest that we are already spending too much.

  • “After Katrina there were a lot of ordianry people that got their home repairs and in fact Parishes Levees reparied because of illegals. They were the only work force”

    I rather doubt that jh. I suspect they were the cheapest work force. Gaining control of our borders I put at a far higher priority than people having access to a relatively cheap source of labor.

  • An even simpler approach would have no additional costs at all: We could declare the entire country to be a prison and announce that we have now imprisoned all illegal immigrants.

    I do not understand this response. I believe their are 3.3 million persons on the federal payroll. A 1% increase in that number might just secure the southern border. If it is not worth it to you, it is not worth it to you. It is, however, feasible.

    I know you are being sarcastic

    I was not. Cops are armed. Firearms are not ornaments.

  • Given that even conservative estimates are that immigration is a net benefit to the U.S. economy

    Largely reaped by immigrant populations themselves and sensitive to public benefit regimes.

    Pareto optimality is not the only issue here.

  • “I rather doubt that jh. I suspect they were the cheapest work force. Gaining control of our borders I put at a far higher priority than people having access to a relatively cheap source of labor.”

    You may doubt it all you want but I know from everyone talking about it it was the only workable compentence work force people could find. Unless you wanted to wait for year with a hole in your roof.

    Just saying the soultion is comprehensive. No doubt now with out crisis on the gulf wioth the oil spill illegals will be play a crucial part in saving our coast because well too many peopl find working for 15 buckes a hour too low!! The roundups will not hasppen and we shall all tuen a blind eye. Untill they are no longer needed and become “criminals” again/ That is the reality

  • Art,

    You think we should shoot illegal immigrants?

  • If I were to charge a state police roadblock, I think I would do so expecting that by luck or finesse, said trooper would miss when he shot at me or my vehicle. Someone making use of whatever technology is available to scale a cement wall being monitored by armed guards should do so understanding that he is risking a dose of lead, most particularly if he is told to halt. It is police work and deadly force is part of their tool kit.

  • “because well too many peopl find working for 15 buckes a hour too low!!”

    Once again jh it sounds to me as if you are talking about a cheap labor force rather than the only labor force available. I might add that here in Central Illinois plenty of people are working for far less than $15.00 per hour.

  • Art,

    I’m not clear what point you’re trying to make here. Yes, clearly if we wanted to implement full Berlin Wall type measures across a two thousand mile border (I assume we would also have “kill foreigners before they clear the surf” rules along the coastline like Shogunate Japan?) we could, as some financially achievable cost “secure our border”. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s “possible” to enforce the law, though.

    After all, it would be feasible in a financial and practical sense to mandate the installation of a “black box” in every car which would read a regional transponder that broadcast the local speed limit and if you exceeded the limit by so much as one 1mph, cut the engine and radio for the highway patrol to come and cuff you. It would be feasible to install microchips in the neck of every child which would detect any trace of blood alcohol injected before 21 and immediately radio for police to come pick the under age drinker up. Both would be almost as feasible as building a 2000 mile long wall with machine gun nests every couple hundred yards, but that doesn’t mean that they’re “possible” means of achieving full enforcement of the relevant laws.

    Which was my point.

    I mean seriously, you’d not actually advocating that we shoot people trying to sneak across the border, are you? We don’t allow cops to shoot someone who isn’t obviously an immediate physical threat to someone. Cops aren’t allowed to just gun down people who don’t listen to their verbal command to halt.

  • Making it a felony for a person to knowingly hire an illegal alien would go a long way to deterring illegal immigration. An illegal who is deported will often try again to come across the border. He or she has nothing to lose. Drying up the sources of work however would make the US a much less tempting place to live. A few high level prosections of a few corporate CEOs and some Hollywood stars would go a long way to getting the message across that the US, this time, is serious about stopping illegal immigration.

    Overall, I would definitely approve more of penalizing employers. However, I would imagine that if you weren’t prosecuting someone unsympathetic and famous, it would be moderately hard to make it stick. Picture:

    “Did you know this guy was an illegal immigrant?”
    “Absolutely not. I asked him for documentation when I hired him and he showed me papers that looked genuine.”

    Given the prevalence of face documentation, if you nail people regardless of whether they “knew” their employee was illegal, then a lot of employers will decide not to hire anyone who speaks Spanish just to be on the safe side. If you only prosecute people who “knew”, then somehow no one will have known.

    Personally, I would have no problem with a secure national ID card to deal with that problem, and I think it would probably help a lot, but somehow most conservatives happen to also hate the idea of a national ID card.

  • “Personally, I would have no problem with a secure national ID card to deal with that problem, and I think it would probably help a lot, but somehow most conservatives happen to also hate the idea of a national ID card.”

    I would have no problem with a National ID Card, especially since our social security numbers have been de facto serving that purpose since the New Deal.

    “Absolutely not. I asked him for documentation when I hired him and he showed me papers that looked genuine.”

    That is when you play the video of him boasting to friends or stock holders that he has lowered the costs of the business\corporation by hiring illegals. Disgruntled employees, vengeful ex-spouses, etc all make excellent witnesses in this type of prosecution. Tax fraud prosecutions would be an excellent model for how these type of cases could be won. Oh, and then there are the illegal aliens themselves who might be willing to aid in the prosecution if given the proper incentives, including a monetary reward for informing on their boss which should be a part of any legislation. If government wants to crack down on the employers it wouldn’t be that difficult or that expensive.

  • I would have no problem with a National ID Card, especially since our social security numbers have been de facto serving that purpose since the New Deal.

    Yeah, I’ve never understood the hysteria about the idea. Especially given how pathetically easy it is to counterfeit social security cards.

    Oh, and then there are the illegal aliens themselves who might be willing to aid in the prosecution if given the proper incentives, including a monetary reward for informing on their boss which should be a part of any legislation. If government wants to crack down on the employers it wouldn’t be that difficult or that expensive.

    How about the ultimate Machiavellian twist: Green cards for illegals who successfully inform on their bosses who hired them illegally!

  • There are foreign policy implications in militarizing a border. While there are plenty of illegal immigrants created by illegally crossing the border, more typical is the illegal immigrant that crossed the border legally. As for making the hiring of an illegal immigrant a felony, good luck with that. The federal prison population is 211,455 this week. The number of illegal immigrants is estimated at over 10,000,000. Needless to say, a doubling of the prison population would easily be possible, if not an increase of an order of magnitude were serious enforcement were attempted.

  • I’d have no objection to such a reward Darwin!

    MZ, you don’t need to prosecute them all. A few high profile ones and people will decide it isn’t worth the risk to save a few bucks on having the lawn mowed, on the live-in Nanny, or mega-Corp hiring illegal aliens to gain a few points on the bottom line. Additionally to the felony hit, a fine of $50,000 per illegal alien hired could be tacked on. Otherwise solid citizens who are hiring illegals purely because they work cheap would quickly realize it wouldn’t be worth the substantial headache if they were caught.

  • I guess I am uncertain as to why you would regard a fortification which demarcates a national boundary frequently violated as something analogous to to putting a person’s motor vehicle engine or liquor cabinet under state control. People tend to resist encroachments on their domestic sphere. The Mexican border is not running through your pantry. (And I would not concede that the microchip idea is technically feasible).

    My example of hypothetical dealings with New York State troopers holds here. It is not difficult to avoid being shot by cops. Do not hire heavy equipment to charge border fortifications and stop your vehicle when they tell you.

    I assume coppers in Corpus Christi will take people who wash ashore into custody and kill them only in self-defense.

    Some people refuse to submit to the authority of the police and some portion of these put life an property in danger in the process. I think the municipal police in New York City shoot about two dozen people a year, on average. Would you prefer they were unarmed?

    Conceivably you could have cost estimates of such a construction project which might cause me to reconsider. There’s an awful lot of concrete in the Interstate Highways, though. The one nearest me runs from Boston to Seattle, I think.

  • There are foreign policy implications in militarizing a border.

    Blah blah. Implicate away.

  • MZ, you don’t need to prosecute them all. A few high profile ones and people will decide it isn’t worth the risk

    This has been the path to some of the more egregious abuses of discretion in prosecuting our drug laws. I’m wary of creating a penalty for deterrence effects. 1) Our best evidence suggests severity isn’t a deterrence. 2) I think gross penalties tend to encourage corruption, the current state of plea bargaining being a prime example.

  • Most laws work purely on deterrence. Traffic laws and tax laws are prime examples. As to plea baragaining, whenever you have criminal statutes you are going to have plea bargaining. Without it, the legal system would come grinding to a halt within a month.

  • 1. Make employers of illegals likely to be caught;
    2. Make the fines and prison time for employers of illegals significant;
    3. Make the fines and prison time for financial services organizations doing business with illegals significant;
    4. Enlist all public services delivery organs (excluding emergency medical) in detecting those here illegally, and make them ineligible for those services (again, excluding emergency medical);
    5. Make it easy for employers, financial services firms, and public service delivery organs to determine who is here illegally and who isn’t;
    6. Ensure that those detected, are repatriated, or at least terrifically inconvenienced.
    7. Double or treble the legal immigration opportunities, with anyone apprehended here illegally made ineligible even to visit as a tourist for ten years after their conviction, and put them at the “end of the line” thereafter. (I.e., reward those who go the legal route.)
    8. End birthright citizenship for children whose parents are not both citizens.

    This is the kind of thing a civilized society is morally obligated to do, and it is tender-hearted without failing to be tough-minded. The tough-minded part is the most important, of course, because it makes the tender-hearted part possible. But those who pursue only tender-hearted policies, without the prerequisite tough-mindedness, get neither.

    Anyhow, do all that, and you needn’t militarize the border, except as sufficient to capture, and when needed, destroy, drug runners. (I hear that Predators with Hellfire missiles do an admirable job at the latter, when there aren’t crowds of migrant laborers obfuscating the target.)

  • I guess I am uncertain as to why you would regard a fortification which demarcates a national boundary frequently violated as something analogous to to putting a person’s motor vehicle engine or liquor cabinet under state control. People tend to resist encroachments on their domestic sphere. The Mexican border is not running through your pantry.

    My point was more that having our southern border marked by a large cement wall topped with razor wire with machine gun emplacements every few hundred yard where border guards are under orders to shoot anyone who approaches the wall is something most people would consider to be authoritarian and un-American. I mean, we’re not talking about a country we’re at war with, we’re talking about peaceful trading partner that we have 250 million legal border crossings a year with. Seriously? You think the American people want people getting machine-gunned on a daily basis for approaching a wall? I keep hoping I’m playing the stupid straight man to a brilliant flight of sarcasm here.

    And even imagining this wall. (A little rough math suggests you’d need 8,800 machine gun emplacements if you put them every 400 yards, which with three shifts and two men per emplacement means you’d need about 53,000 guards.) What are you going to do about the thousands of people who could simply approach a legal border crossing point during daylight and respond to, “What is your business in the US,” with, “Para visitar a mi hermano.”

    Some people refuse to submit to the authority of the police and some portion of these put life an property in danger in the process. I think the municipal police in New York City shoot about two dozen people a year, on average. Would you prefer they were unarmed?

    No, I don’t think police should be unarmed, but surely you realize that police have very specific rules of engagement concerning when they can use their guns? They’re allowed to shoot when they think that someone is an immediate physical threat to the officer or to a bystander, not just because someone isn’t listening to order to stop. This is why there’s such a big stink and an officer accidentally shoots an unarmed minority guy.

    Shooting someone simply for putting a ladder against a wall and trying to climb over would be a massive departure from the way the US behaves anywhere other than a war zone.

    Seriously, you know this, don’t you? You’re normally one of the most widely informed commenters we have around here.

  • It did occur to me that police have specific rules of engagement, but thanks for the lesson.

    I am not responsible, Darwin, for where your imagination leads you. I did say that sentinels at the border should be armed and that encounters between law enforcement and its objects lead to lethal violence on occasion. It should not surprise you if this occurs at the Mexican border. The initial subject of these discussions concerned the activities of organized crime, whose members are not adverse to the use of lethal force and do attempt to cross the border on occasion. The business about machine guns and quotidienne killings is in your head. Nothing to do with anything I ever alluded to.

    The purpose of fortifying the border is to channel the traffic to the legally-designated crossings where persons, vehicles, and merchandise can be subject to proper inspection. Your reference to the number of legal crossings is puzzling; fortifying the border does not in and of itself limit the number of legal-crossings, though it may exacerbate queuing problems. I am sorry the aesthetics of a concrete wall offends you. I do not care for the look of strip malls. I suppose the ugliness of them is not so ‘un-American’, however.

    Look, we are either serious about this or we are not. If immigration law is to serve public policy, immigration law has to be enforced. If it is not, circumstance, or someone other than you and your legislators, are establishing the pathways and destination meant to be set by immigration law. Enforcement means capital investment and manpower to see to it that people crossing the border have their paperwork in order. Enforcement means uniformed armed men telling you to do what you might prefer not to. There are occasions in this world when that turns ugly. And there is nothing terribly shocking about that.

    We are not at war with Mexico. That does not mean Mexican citizens should be permitted to settle in this country without a proper visa. If you are not willing to fortify and defend the border, that is your preferred policy by default. If the Mexican government fancies it is a casus belli that their citizens are compelled to follow the regulations which apply to everyone else, tough.

  • What are you going to do about the thousands of people who could simply approach a legal border crossing point during daylight and respond to, “What is your business in the US,” with, “Para visitar a mi hermano.”

    If their paperwork is in order, wave them through. If it is not, hand them the proper forms and tell them to return with their paperwork in order.

  • The business about machine guns and quotidienne killings is in your head. Nothing to do with anything I ever alluded to.

    You’re right, it was another commenter who specifically mentioned “machine guns”, though that doesn’t strike me as a reach from what you said here:

    The border with Mexico is a shade under 2,000 miles long. Build a cement wall, decorate it with razor wire, add observation towers, and hire ~15,000 guards working in shifts and equipped with firearms and optical equipment to police it. … (and small roving ambulence squads can pick up and minister to any who get shot from the observation towers).

    The purpose of fortifying the border is to channel the traffic to the legally-designated crossings where persons, vehicles, and merchandise can be subject to proper inspection. Your reference to the number of legal crossings is puzzling; fortifying the border does not in and of itself limit the number of legal-crossings, though it may exacerbate queuing problems. I am sorry the aesthetics of a concrete wall offends you.

    Perhaps you know of something of which I’m unaware, but the only countries I know of which have fortified borders are those which are officially at war (ex: North and South Korea) and borders between authoritarian regimes and free countries (built by the rulers of the former to keep their citizens in.) Somehow all other civilized nations do have immigrations laws yet don’t have fortifications.

    Though to be fair — the US/Mexico border is the economically starkest in the world that I’m aware of, so I suppose one could argue this is from lack of need.

    If their paperwork is in order, wave them through. If it is not, hand them the proper forms and tell them to return with their paperwork in order.

    There is not a visa required to make a day trip to the US from Mexico. You just show ID and walk right through.

  • I just don’t get it. I have lived in Texas since 1974 and illegal immigration has been around the entire time, if not from time immemorial. Why is it suddenly now such a huge deal? What has so significantly changed? Is it 9/11? If that’s the excuse, then the Canadian border (which is much larger) is an even bigger threat b/c of their much larger Muslim population and more hospitable crossing opportunities (ie, no desert). But no one seems to worry about that for some reason.

  • There are other political frontiers which are also stark economic frontiers (Israel v. any of its neighbors, Saudi Arabia v. Yemen, Albania v. Greece). What is more atypical is the presence of extant social networks in which Mexican migrants can insert themselves and that the United States has a loose associative understanding of nationhood that is more friendly to migrants. Immigration is more a sociological phenomenon than an economic one.

    As for your last point – inneresting. Makes one wonder what is the value-added of surreptitious border crossings and coyotes.

  • The day thing, if I understand correctly, applies to border towns. At least that is how it is for Texas points I have encountered. So, for example, you can just waltz across back and forth in Brownsville, but when you try to get further in (closer to Corpus Christi) there are check points that require additional documentation. Thus, the coyotes are for getting you further in, I imagine.

  • then the Canadian border (which is much larger) is an even bigger threat b/c of their much larger Muslim population and more hospitable crossing opportunities (ie, no desert). But no one seems to worry about that for some reason.

    I am not sure I would characterize the crossing opportunities presented by the Rocky Mountains and the St. Lawrence Seaway as all that hospitable.

    That aside, if the population of Mexico and Central America were about a quarter what it is today, were the per capita income therein about 3x what it is today, were three quarters of the population therein conversant in English, and were the homicide rate a third what it is in the U.S., people might be less anxious about cross border traffic.

  • This discussion has gotten silly. I did laugh about declaring the whole country a prison, so we can say that we’ve apprehended all the illegals. What’s next? Pouring boiling oil on those who try to use a ladder to cross the fortified border?

    “A secure national ID card.” Ain’t no such thing. If you can make an ID card, so can I. All it takes is money to buy or make the equipment. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal last week about counterfeiting. It seems that the North Koreans make $100 bills that look as good as what we can print.

    None of the discussion about a fortified southern or northern border addresses the question of how to deal with people who are here illegally who came here legally in the first place, with a visa and a “welcome to the United States” from immigration.

  • National ID card? What happened to subsidiarity? States are clearly able to and currently do have ID cards.

  • Pingback: Arizona Strikes Back! Ready to Cut Power to L.A. « The American Catholic

Illegal Aliens Boycott Arizona

Sunday, May 2, AD 2010

The State of Arizona is only enforcing what is already law at the federal level.  That being said and myself being the son of a legal immigrant from the nation of Mexico, the May Day protests and the highly unbalanced news reporting from the mainstream media have purposely distorted the legislation that has been passed in Arizona.

Having attended college and lived in Arizona for almost ten years I know for a fact that there are many good people living there and I am disappointed in how unfairly and untruthful they have been portrayed by the mainstream media.

The only other thing I want to say is that Roger Cardinal Mahony’s reprehensible choice of words to characterize the law that had been passed in Arizona is unbecoming of an archbishop.

_._

Related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:

Illegal Immigration:  A Winning Issue for Democrats?

Catholic Worker View of NAFTA/Immigration

Mexifornia:  A State of Becoming

Arizona, Immigration, and Moral Panic

Arizonas New Immigration Law

Somewhat related posts on this issue here at The American Catholic:

British Survey on Foreigners in the United Kingdom

http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/04/23/arizonas-new-immigration-law/
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38 Responses to Illegal Aliens Boycott Arizona

  • Well, if the mainstream media is painting the Arizona populace as a cesspool of evil people then surely the media is wrong. But to argue that the people of Arizona are direly wrong about this law (when there’s a poll of 70% or so supporting then), then it is a qutie honest disagreement on strategy. I don’t think it’s helpful necessarily to focus on the most extreme opinions coming from one side or the other because the discourse gets stuck on he-said, she-said, but-he-said-something-even-more-vile melodramatic soap opera nonsense and it does nothing to solve the problem.

  • Most people in America aren’t against immigration; they’re just against illegal immigration. For example, like most of our ancestors, my mother’s parents were immigrants. They came through Ellis Island and followed the various legal steps required in order to establish themselves as true citizens of this country. The immigrants crossing the Mexican border, however, have absolutely no interest in following these legal protocols. Once they cross the border, they change their names and/or purchase social security numbers in an effort to conceal their true identities from the law. It is not uncommon for an illegal immigrant to purchase not one, but two or more social security numbers, just in case one is flagged. I have witnessed this crime with my own eyes. (One day, a supposedly legal immigrant was asked to give their social security card to a receptionist for a job application and an interview. When the receptionist happened to ask to see the card a second time, the immigrant mistakenly handed over a different social security card with the same name on it, but with a completely different set of numbers…)

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against Hispanics. I have many Hispanic friends, but they either have green cards to work in the United States or have become legal citizens. They decided to follow the rule of law and work within the boundaries of our legal system. Unfortunately, many immigrants do not, and it those particular individuals that we are most concerned about.

    Now it seems that those who sympathize with illegal immigrants wish to hijack the discussion of reform by attacking the law recently imposed by the State of Arizona through protests and boycotts; a state mind you, that has been besieged with crime, drugs and an ever-increasing population of illegal immigrants. Don’t allow them this option. Speak out and take action. This is your country… fight for it.

    In closing, I consider myself to be a bleeding-heart liberal: a Democrat. My ancestor, Roger Williams – one of our founding fathers, was one too; regarding the acceptance of different nationalities, cultures and religions as the vitality and lifeblood of any country. Nevertheless, I think that he would agree with me; that immigrants wishing to become legal citizens have not only the obligation, but the civil and legal responsibility to follow the rules of law established by any country in which they wish to become authentic citizens, just as our ancestors – both yours and mine – struggled so arduously and righteously to achieve.

  • “The only other thing I want to say is that Roger Cardinal Mahony’s reprehensible choice of words to characterize the law that had been passed in Arizona is unbecoming of an archbishop.”

    That’s an understatement.

  • There is a reason why bishops have near dictatorial powers in their dioceses. They are meant “to know their sheep”. Cardinal Mahony has lost control of his flock. Instead of paying attention to the flood of immorality which rises from his archdiocesis, had he not better address that? Or is he fearful of losing popularity?

    From my own Irish background, I believe he is one of the fast fading [laus Deo] Irish clerics who live in the previous century. Time to retire to a monastery and contemplate the last ends.

    [Footnote: there is nothing new in the Arizona immigration law. It merely copies the U.S. law].

  • “Unbecoming of an archbishop”??? If the Holy Father had said the same thing, I suppose it would have been unbecoming of a pope too. Yet you and your “real Catholics” never fail to criticize the clergy for mincing words about those social ills of which you disapprove. It strikes me that jumping on a prince of the Church for defending Catholic teaching, even if his words sound harsh to the “good people” you know in Arizona, is unbecoming of a Catholic blogger.

  • Calling the people who support the legislation in Arizona Nazis and Communists is completely in line with Cardinal Mahoney’s adherence to the Magisterium. The only problem is that the Magisterium he adheres to is that of the New York Times.

  • Prince of the Church?

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

    ha!

  • while I don’t find comparisons to totalitarian regimes prudent or useful I agree with his sentiment. this bill is over authoritarian and is unjust. I’m pretty sure if you asked people in general what they thought about cops checikng peoples papers and separating families they would say it was wrong. no idea why that changes when it’s an immigrant getting checked-though I suspect that many (not accusing anyone here mind you) do so out of racist, natvisit, and/or anti-catholic predjudices

  • I have this quaint idea Michael that the immigration laws of our country should be followed and enforced. I also think Mahoney is a disgrace and has been one for years. I don’t think either of those positions is authoritarian, racist, nativist or anti-Catholic.

  • I think it’s possible to simultaneously hold:

    – US immigration laws should be enforced (even if one doesn’t like their current quotas).
    – This particular law is an unwise and excessive way of trying to attempt that.
    – Mahony’s way of expressing his dislike for the law was foolish and irresponsible (not to mention unpastoral) in the extreme.
    – Mahony deserves a modicum of respect because of his office.
    – Mahony has been pretty at best unhelpful at and worst a disaster for both his own diocese and the Church in the US as a whole.

  • I’m with Don on this.

    This law, which was just clarified again by the AZ legislature, only mandates that police investigate immigration status in the course of “lawful contact”, investigating a crime. It requires police to do the job that the federal government has failed to do.

    It doesn’t mandate or create any sweeping new powers, and it doesn’t violate anyone’s “civil rights”, which in this day and age has come to mean “my right to never be questioned by the police about anything I do, ever.”

    It’s nothing but a politically-loaded catch phrase that partisans of the left use to mask their true belief, which is this: that national borders are inherently unjust, that nations and states have no inherent right to exist, and that the immigration law we do have should not be enforced in order to more quickly and speedily bring about their demise.

    I know because I was in the communist movement. I know because I argued this myself, I believed it, and I promoted the idea through propaganda and agitation. It was the official position of my party and every other party of the far left. Not only should the law not be enforced, “workers” (that is, leftists) should do all in their power to make illegal immigration safer, more efficient, and more permanent, and conspire to break the law or at least test its limits to the extreme.

    This law is not unwise. This law is not unjust. This law is a rational response to a federal failure and a wave of lethal violence from south of the border. Mexico has become a narco-terror state in many regions along the border. On our side we must be empowered to protect lives, liberty and property from a ruthless enemy.

    If the feds actually were doing their damned jobs, would those of you who don’t like this law be claiming that federal immigration law was unjust? If so, then just say it. Admit that you don’t want there to be immigration laws. Because saying you want a level of government to enforce them that has consistently failed to enforce them is tantamount to saying that you don’t want them enforced.

  • Most people in America aren’t against immigration; they’re just against illegal immigration.

    If your problem with something is that it is illegal, then you should favor making it legal.

    For example, like most of our ancestors, my mother’s parents were immigrants. They came through Ellis Island and followed the various legal steps required in order to establish themselves as true citizens of this country.

    Unless your mother’s parents were war refugees, the fact they came through Ellis Island suggests that they came to the country back when we had open immigration. If today’s law were in place back then your mom’s parents likely wouldn’t have been able to (legally) come here.

  • I have this quaint idea Michael that the immigration laws of our country should be followed and enforced.

    Would you say the same for ObamaCare?

  • Btw, a common refrain in the immigration debate is that the federal government isn’t enforcing the immigration laws. I’m not quite sure what this means. I was talking with an ICE agent this weekend, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t sit around all day surfing the web and watching Oprah. I take it that the assumption the federal government isn’t enforcing the law is based primarily on the fact that there are a lot of illegal immigrants in this country, but by that logic the government isn’t enforcing the laws against drug dealing and murder either.

  • I concur (oddly?) with DC and BA.

  • don: I stated I was not accusing anyone here of that. people like tancredo? absolutely.

    Joe: if it makes you feel better the Feds are doing a better job of stopping illegal immigration than other things. if you don’t believe me come on down to louisiana where we wish the Feds were doing as well ad they’ve done on the borders

  • I don’t know why Arizonans would want to protect their citizens from Mexican drug cartel violence, safeguard the public treasury, or prevent the strain on their already choked social services. I mean, not doing that has done wonders for LA! That movie, American Me, I want to recreate that in my city. Yes!

    I have no idea why they’d want to enforce the laws that have been on the books since the USA formed or why they’d be mad at the Feds for not doing their jobs of securing our borders. Arizonans are racists, red-neck, bigoted, right-wing conspiracists for wanting to protect the quality of life of LEGAL immigrants already living here. What’s up with that? They should enjoy picking up the 2 million tons of trash the illegals leave strewn across our lands as they make their way north because they always have beautiful, sunny skies.

    Did you know that asking for someone’s citzenship papers is the equivalent of slaughtering 7 million Jews in Nazi Germany. If you didn’t, then you’re not reading the main-stream, unbiased, good-intentioned media. Get with the program, Comrades! Read the NY Times, the LA Times or the Washington Post, or any newspaper that feeds off of them. It will really educate you and keep you from losing your public education indoctrination.

    Why not let the entire world into this country, starting with Haiti, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Yemen — oh, and don’t forget a few “mainstream” Castro-loving Cubans. I’m sure the freedom-loving Cubans already living in Miami who hate Castro won’t mind. Let’s blow taxpayers’ money overseas by sending travel vouchers to the Middle East so they can fly to Mexico and come across the border. Can’t we all just get along? If we just sat down and negotiated with them, all war, poverty and disease would end and Obama could save us all.

    After their amnesty, they’ll vote Democrat in order to keep the taxpayer dollars flowing freely and keep Democrats in power. What’s so wrong about that? That stuff going on in Greece — riots, protest. Yeah, I like that. Let’s get some of that. After all, we’re no longer a Republic. We’re a dictatorship. Just ask the folks who passed healthcare with the Slaughter House Rules, instead of abiding by the will of the people. If you can’t afford health insurance, you should be jailed or fined by IRS agents, so there will be no room for locking up illegal aliens. Obama is going to help this country like Chairman Mao helped China take the Great Leap Forward, or how Stalin helped unite the Russians. CHANGE, TRANSFORM. I really love it.

    All I ask is that you don’t complain as your paychecks get smaller and smaller. After all, someone has to pay for all those bells and whistles, and bells and whistles, and bells and whistles, etc. Well, you get the idea. It might as well be you. We know from history that the rich ALWAYS get soaked, so none of it will effect your pocketbook. Right? I mean, look how many millionaires are now living in boxes by the river. Plus, the more money you rob from rich people and give to poor people, the more jobs that are created. Right, Nancy Pelosi? It looks like rain today — maybe too much. I hope the government is doing something about that. Maybe a rain tax is needed.

  • Michael,

    Why should what happens in Louisiana have anything to do with the situation in AZ? The feds are not doing a good job in the Southwest. That’s why AZ acted. This was not arbitrary.

    So, no, the idea that some other state might benefit more from federal help doesn’t make me “feel better”, and I don’t know why it should. Though technically I don’t live in AZ, my entire family on my mother’s side does. So that’s what I care about.

  • “I’m not quite sure what this means.”

    You know exactly what it means – you just like making strawmen out of opposing arguments.

  • I, as Joe, know the issues and problems in Arizona.

    What Arizona is doing is lawful, just, and moral.

    How many are portraying Arizona as is disgusting.

    Thank goodness for democracy.

    Otherwise, things will get really ugly.

  • Don: I have this quaint idea Michael that the immigration laws of our country should be followed and enforced.

    BA: Would you say the same for ObamaCare?

    BA, you just demonstrated in this sentence that you are not in the least interested in having an honest debate or discussion on this issue.

  • “’Unbecoming of an archbishop’??? If the Holy Father had said the same thing, I suppose it would have been unbecoming of a pope too.”-ron chandonia

    Yes, Ron, calumny would be unbecoming of a pope too. Praise Jesus that our pope is able to resist such.

    Pray for our bishops.

  • “I have this quaint idea Michael that the immigration laws of our country should be followed and enforced.”

    “Would you say the same for ObamaCare?”

    I have called for the repeal of ObamaCare BA since I regard it as very bad public policy. I support immigration laws which I view as good public policy. The quotas for each foreign nation should be determined by Congress and not by coyotes bringing illegals across our southern border. I believe all nations on Earth have immigration laws and I find the hysteria surrounding the people of Arizona taking action to actually enforce ours rather comic.

  • If today’s law were in place back then your mom’s parents likely wouldn’t have been able to (legally) come here.

    If I am not mistaken, the law allows 800,000 immigrants to enter the country every year, with an additional increment of refugees whose number varies according to circumstance. The principal constraint for the aspirant immigrant are the preference categories which favor the relatives of extant immigrants.

  • Joe,

    Actually I’m serious. The federal government deports about a million illegal immigrants a year; if you don’t think that’s enforcing the law, then you should at least say what you would consider enforcement.

    I suspect that the enforcement issue is a red herring. People favor enforcing laws they like; if it is a law they don’t like they are fine with it not being enforced. Thus, Don has the quaint notion that immigration laws should be enforced, but as he himself admits this is because he thinks our immigration laws are good policy. Arizona in particular has attempted to “nullify” federal law on a number of subjects (including, ironically, the REAL ID Act).

  • “Thus, Don has the quaint notion that immigration laws should be enforced, but as he himself admits this is because he thinks our immigration laws are good policy.”

    Actually BA I believe virtually all laws should be enforced because to do otherwise is a short route to chaos. On this point I agree with Saint Thomas More as I elaborated in this post below:

    http://the-american-catholic.com/2010/03/29/give-the-devil-benefit-of-law/

    My precise position as to obeying the law as set forth in that post: “People should act to change bad laws. If a law so seriously compromises a person’s conscience that obeying it would appear to that person to be active complicity in evil than disobedience of the law, with the willingness to be punished for the disobedience, may be called for by that individual. Otherwise, even bad or foolish laws should be obeyed until they can be changed, short of “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism” which justifies a rising in revolt by a people. To act otherwise is to reduce the law to mere opinion and to cause our civil society to descend to the rule of the strongest or the loudest.”

  • Joe: you missed the point. I was trying to make a point about federal incompetence.

    to everyone else: I’m not interested in these “we here understand the problem as it really is” arguments. at best those defend the ends of this bill-but that’s not the bills only problem. more important is the means this bill entails-the documentation part. it’s not just.

    unfortunately I think all this is doing is making sure pro-life catholic Hispanics flee to the welcoming arms of the democrats.

  • Donald,

    So you believe virtually all laws should be enforced, but not ObamaCare? Or do you think that ObamaCare should be enforced too (including, say, the individual mandate)?

    Incidentally, I don’t think the passage from Bolt’s play really has much to do with whether laws should be enforced. More is talking about the importance of the legal protections against arbitrary arrest and punishment that were present in English law. He wasn’t saying that you have to enforce every statute to its full extent, and if you were to change the law to remove the legal protections More’s talking about then that would be equally problematic.

  • You will look long and hard on this blog BA without finding a sentence stated by me that ObamaCare should not be enforced. My focus has been on legal challenges to the law, amendments, and the enactment of state laws to attack ObamaCare. All within the realm of the law, and in the realm of attempts to change the law through political victory. Your position BA appears to be that we have no duty to obey laws that we disagree with. That is not my position and I am certain that it was not the position of Saint Thomas More.

  • Don nailed it as usual, and I say that as one who disagrees with Don (I think) on the AZ legislation. I oppose the legislation for several prudential reasons, but find the open borders arguments equally problematic. The failure of the federal government to secure borders is scandalous and unacceptable. As Tom Friedman once put it (not sure if this is a blind squirrel or stopped clock priciple here), we need a tall fence and wide gate.

  • Your position BA appears to be that we have no duty to obey laws that we disagree with.

    No, my position would be that if a law is a bad law, it probably shouldn’t be expanded.

    I apologizes for my error regarding your position on enforcing ObamaCare. There are, however, lots of people who don’t want to see the law enforced, including many of the people responsible for and supportive of the Arizona law.

  • BA,

    You’re make assumptions not based in fact. People opposed to Obamacare did not want the law enacted. They also want the law repealed. No one here has said leave the crappy law on the books and disobey it or that the various bureaucracies it creates should sit on their hands and not do their job. No, folks with an understanding of human nature, economics, and the health care system are opposed to Obamacare because it will make things worse for most folks and greatly increase government involvement in people’s lives.

    For those saying that Cardinal Mahony should not be criticized for his inane and nonsensical comments I can only assume you did not bother clicking the link and reading his inaccurate assessment of what Arizona passed. Consider this comment of his:

    “I can’t imagine Arizonans now reverting to German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques whereby people are required to turn one another in to the authorities on any suspicion of documentation.

    “Are children supposed to call 911 because one parent does not have proper papers?”

    Please show me where in the Arizona law it addresses something as stupid as the idea of requiring children to turn in their parent. That is as silly as being against laws against hardcore drugs because if a child saw their parent shooting up horse they might feel obliged to tell on mommy or daddy. Does the archbishop not have a staff to assist him with his speeches so he would not seem foolish?

    I could respect his position if he would just say “Hey, countries should not have any borders. We are all children of God and should not let artificial borders separate us.” However, he is throwing inaccurate allegation out about the Arizona law instead.

  • Amazing. Illegal aliens are to be classified as criminals… What does “illegal” mean again? — I’m a bit confused here.

  • “I urge everyone who is outraged by Cardinal Mahony’s calumnious remarks as I am to contact the media relations office for the L.A.”

    I gave up on Cardinal Mahony year’s ago. You only have to look at his hideous “cathedral” with its pagan-like altar, his rebellions against the Pope and his weird masses to know that his “Catholicism” is whatever he decides he wants it to be for that particular week. It’s best to just pray for his soul and hope for a Pope who will actually rein him in.

    So am I surprised at what he says about Arizona’s new immigration law. No, it just confirms what I already knew about him.

  • BA will say anything to get under your skin. Best to learn that now.

    “The federal government deports about a million illegal immigrants a year; if you don’t think that’s enforcing the law, then you should at least say what you would consider enforcement.”

    There isn’t enough enforcement. There aren’t enough agents. There aren’t enough funds. And the advanced, military-style tactics of the cartels and the gangs call for higher levels of training and enforcement. The federal government has not taken the problem as seriously as it should. Mexico is destabilizing, there is a violent civil war being fought right on our border. A few more INS agents aren’t going to cut it at this point. This is a national security issue, one far more valid than Afghanistan I might add.

    As Gov. Brewer pointed out, the costs of housing foreign nationals (which ought to be done or at least paid for by the federal government) costs the state 150 million each year. Thats small beans at the federal level but these are considerably larger sums at the state level.

    As for Obamacare…

    If people want to resist Obamacare, what do I care? You really think the principle here is that laws should be enforced because they’re laws?

    I don’t worship the law, I’m not a lawyer. The fundamental right to self-preservation against violent enemies is a natural right that needs no validation or authorization from any government. If human laws support it, good. If they don’t, to hell with them. No law and no constitution is a suicide pact.

    So, I’m not going to be squeezed into your rhetorical box. This isn’t about the law. It is about what is right and wrong, about survival and self-preservation. If you want to oppose that, you’re welcome to try and see how far you get.

  • In response to you e-mail…….I am among the 70% plus of Arizonans who approve of the Arizona Illegal Immigration Bill!
    Too many people have not read the Bill so how can they be against it when they do not know what’s in it?
    Too many people rather believe in heresy than in facts! The American main media is a classic example.
    Here in Tucson, only one percent of the protesters when asked were register voter, the rest were high school kids (from Tucson High School) and illegals on the day the Governor signed the Bill. NO LIE!

    Like California, Arizona is bleeding from the financial burden that illegals have created in this state. Crime committed by illegals in Arizona is another burden for our State law enforcement agencies.

    When someone walks into a Chase Bank to open an account, the Customer Representative will ask for proper identification. If that someone does not show the proper identification that someone will be ask if he or she is an American citizen. If not, a different form has to be fill out.

    When someone is stop for a traffic violation, is in a traffic accident, acting suspicious, or commits a crime, the police officer will ask for proper identification.
    If that someone does not show the proper identification, that someone will be ask if he or she is an American citizen. If not, that someone will be question further to determine his or her status in this country. It’s not profiling!

    My father arrived in this country from Mexico at the age of six. For seventy-four years he carried with him a U.S. working permit (Green Card). He never complained of profiling! Whenever someone asked him if he was American citizen, he would proudly say no

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Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

Thursday, April 8, AD 2010

When Catholics justified their decision to vote for Obama, they did so on two grounds: healthcare and foreign policy. The premise was Obama would actually save lives through healthcare and through his more peaceful foreign policy, thus outweighing the damage he would do through his promotion of abortion.

I never found that premise convincing. Not only did I think they underestimated the damage abortion does, but I also believed that they were ignoring what Barack Obama was actually promoting in his foreign policy. To make a long story short, I think most people assumed that since Obama was a Democrat who had opposed the war in Iraq that he would be the opposite of Bush when in truth their positions are very similar.

Since taking office, Obama has largely followed the lead of his predecessor. However today news is coming out that he has surpassed his predecessor in circumventing due process: Obama has authorized the CIA to kill a US citizen believed to be involved in terrorism (H/t Vox Nova).

The idea that an American citizen can be killed without a trial outside of battle is a troubling one, regardless of whether you voted for Obama or not. The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.

To take away human life outside of self-defense is a power no one, including the President, possesses. One will hope that the media will publish this and emphasize it so that public pressure will dissuade Obama from taking this course of action. Unfortunately, one has to doubt that that hope will be realized.

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63 Responses to Obama Approves Assassination of Citizen

  • Oh, but surely the president deserves the benefit of the doubt! He has “more information” than we do! And he should be allowed to do anything to save american lives!

    At least, this is the defense you people made of Bush. Now you’re criticizing Obama on the same grounds?

    Of course, much of Obama’s foreign policy is sheer evil, just like Bush’s. But do forgive me if I find your opposition of it laughable, considering you defended Bush’s policies. Your concerns ring hollow.

  • An interesting debate on this topic taking place on National Review Online:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/

    I found this comment by Jonah Goldberg interesting:

    “Re: Assassinating Awlaki [Jonah Goldberg]

    Just my quick two cents: I think this is a good and fine debate to have, but it’s worth considering that one reason we’re having it is that the White House wants us to. As Steve Hayes noted last night on Special Report, the news that we would be targeting Awlaki was leaked months ago, around the time of the Christmas bomber. It was releaked this week, perhaps to counterbalance the news that the White House is considering removing references to Islamic extremism in its national security strategy.”

  • The Catholic Anarchist’s response to the news that the man he voted for is willing to have the CIA assassinate an American citizen is to rant against Bush and his supporters. I am shocked, shocked!

  • I will have to let the others included in the group of “you people” answer for themselves, whoever “you people” is meant to address.

    However, I think you need to show me where I defended Bush’s policies. To my knowledge I have never done so on a blog. While I was very much a neocon in 2004, as I learned about Church teaching in college I came to oppose Bush’s foreign policy in regards to the war in Iraq, treatment of prisoners, etc. I don’t believe I have ever blogged supporting Bush’s actions, so I presume your accusation against me is nothing more than reasoning by stereotype & generalizations rather than any substantial basis.

    But of course, I digress. Whether or not my concern is has ill motives does change the fact that what I’m saying is true. I’m the one who voted against the man who’s trying to assassinate American citizens and you’re the one who voted for him.

    Donald:

    That is an interesting idea. Obama’s pretty good about getting the media to follow along; I wonder what the strategy is.

    And you are more than welcome to continue to post clips from Casablanca on any post I write. In fact, this post is surely deficient for lacking clips from that classic movie.

  • One of my rules of life Michael is that there are few things that cannot be made better by a Casablanca reference!

  • To quote my mom:
    “Life is technicalities.”

    I have no problem with murderers being targeted for death, I object to this one being killed without a trial to revoke his citizenship. (on the basis of having declared war on the US, if this is the youtube fellow I seem to remember)

    (Ed note-No profanity, even if merely abbreviated.)

  • I have no problem with murders being targeted for death

    Typical view of The American Catholic.

    (Ed-I changed your quote of him to what I changed him to say without the language).

  • Foxfier:

    They still retain human dignity and ought not to be killed, regardless of what they have done, unless self-defense requires it. There is no reason this man should not be “merely” imprisoned.

    MI:

    You really need to stop arguing by association.

  • You really need to stop arguing by association.

    And you should take your own advice, methinks.

  • MD-
    Sure there is: we can’t do it, and trying to will make for a nice big pile of dead bodies. Failure to act has already resulted in innocent deaths– in part because this unspeakable has been able to be at war with a nation without even losing his citizenship of that nation.

  • Foxfier:

    Do you have any evidence of someone who has died b/c the United States was trying to capture this man rather than assassinate him?

    MI:

    This thread is not about my decision to blog for TAC so please stop submitting comments in that regard. Needless to say, I do not agree with everything my co-bloggers or the commenters say. In fact, I accepted the invitation to discuss those differences.

    Furthermore, as one of your co-bloggers has just mentioned some support for Obama’s decision at your blog, you should check your own house.

  • Question:

    What’s the standard?

    What I mean is, under what circumstances may the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States authorize armed force against an enemy person?

    Obviously we don’t try all enemy soldiers in American courts prior to bombing their positions.

    On the other hand, obviously the President shouldn’t be able to declare any given Person X somewhere in the world to be an enemy and have him shot.

    Somewhere between those two extremes is a line, which can be demarcated on the basis of moral principles.

    What’s the standard?

    I notice that the article brought up whether the target was on a battlefield. In this war, what battlefield would that be? A Paris nightclub? An apartment in Beirut? A city street pretty much anywhere?

    It seems more pertinent to me to ask whether the subject is armed…but once the Nazis bedded down for the night, they weren’t armed. Yet I suppose we were perfectly willing to bomb the Nazi barracks, and I don’t suppose that was unjustified.

    What then?

    Perhaps the concern is whether the man is an American citizen? Hmm. The only way that seems pertinent to me is that, if we can capture him, we should try him for treason instead of locking him up until end-of-hostilities as an unlawful combatant. I mean, if we’re talking about a matter of human rights, and not just the particular privileges of citizenship.

    I don’t mean to make absurd comparisons here. Of course I see the difference between blowing up a guy’s house in Kentucky and blowing up a Nazi barracks.

    But I want to see the standards and criteria for authorizing force spelled out in plain language. It seems to me that doing this allows those standards to be evaluated dispassionately.

    So: Those of you who think the CIA hit isn’t okay: What’s the least alteration in the situation required to make it okay? Those of you who think it’s fine: What alteration would make it beyond the pale?

    Where’s the line? What’s the standard?

  • God Bless America! I just want everyone to know how much I love my country.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    If this doesn’t make you cry, you’ve got the devil in your soul.

    (Ed-note: This is not an actual comment from Iafrate but a joke played on him)

  • I for one find this development troubling on several levels. This is very much in line with the previous administration’s foreign policy, but it goes a step further.

  • Yes, the thing that Obama defenders seem to be missing out on this topic is that by ordering the killing without trial of an American citizen, Obama is taking a step which the Bush administration explicitly declined to do. (And rightly, I would argue.)

    Ordering any kind of assassination is troubling from a moral and a legal point of view, and it is (I think) with good reason that US law has generally forayed this. Setting the precedent of ordering the assassination of a US citizen (even on suspicion of terrorist involvement) without trial essentially means that Obama is claiming the authority to order the death of any person, at any time, for any reason.

    That’s not something one wants any authority to claim. (And someone who imagines this is “the same” as having the authority to order military action is either ignorant or duplicious.)

  • I just wanted to make sure you all saw this, so here it is again.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

    Why, I love this song so much that I may never post anything else here again.

    (Ed-note: this is not an actual comment of Iafrate but a joke played on him.)

  • First, will whoever it is that is manipulating Michael I’s posts stop?

    Second, Michael D: did you read the updates on the link? Already the discussions are open.

    Third, Darwin, are you so sure?

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/usnews/politics/2856-cia-has-program-to-assassinate-us-citizens

  • Only American citizens deserve human dignity?

    I’m not really worked up over this one way or the other, maybe because I don’t see any other president doing any differently, but I do find it somewhat disturbing that some believe killing Americans is somehow less immoral than killing non-Americans.

  • Would you be worked up about it if Bush did do so?

  • Restrainedradical

    For me, the issue is that this is another step away from human rights; I agree with you that assassination is wrong, whether or not an American. However, there has always been a sense that Americans are given more rights and protections – rights and protections I think which should be extended outside of America, but instead, we see the rights and protections being eliminated, to make everyone equal.

  • Henry,

    Is this the WaPo article – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/26/AR2010012604239.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010012700394 – with this correction:

    “Correction to This Article
    The article referred incorrectly to the presence of U.S. citizens on a CIA list of people the agency seeks to kill or capture. After The Post’s report was published, a source said that a statement the source made about the CIA list was misunderstood.”

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong. I disagree with the guy on a lot of things and I wouldn’t exactly consider him the most considerate and thoughtful person around the blogosphere, but while I appreciate the humor of it, it’s just wrong and makes you all look bad.

    It’s your blog to do with as you see fit. I’ve voiced my opinion in the past that I don’t think you should moderate even the worst of his comments because most people can see them for what they are. They’re a true reflection of what he stands for and his character. Posting comments under his name that he clearly didn’t write shameful and even worse than the way the other blog refuses to post comments that challenge the fallacies and unwarranted assertions offered.

    I would remove the comments, apologize, and promise to not do anything like this in the future. Common decency dictates that, and your regular readers deserve better (at least this regular reader thinks he deserves better).

  • Michael’s posts are faked?

  • Jonathan

    A couple things. If you read beyond that, there is still the assertion of Americans being targets, just the CIA source is wrong. Second, there are other articles and discussions on the CIA affair– not just that one article. So, it is possible they were wrong, but as I said on the VN post, there are all kinds of indications which the Bush administration favored such actions and did them — even if we cannot prove it, I suspect this is not new, a creation ex nihilo, but an open admission to what was once not open. That is my intuition. Even if I am wrong there, there is nonetheless evidence which, though not proof, shows why one can suspect it is the case — and again, the line beyond what you quote is indicative of that, too.

    Still, Obama is bad for doing this. But to believe it is new… and the Bush team opposed such an idea? Read Cheney.

  • The posts attributed to Iafrate are simply wrong.

    Agreed RL. Completely classless. Michael’s a troll on this blog, no question about it. And anyone familiar with his writings will recognize the joke. But editing comments that way is a basic violation of blogging etiquette (as is the delete-all-dissent (DAD) policy at VN from some writers) and it shouldn’t happen. Apologies are owed to Michael I.

  • I generally approve of what Obama is doing here. I can see the other side but I think he is solid COnst grounds here.

  • If it was found in WWII tha there were in a army camp numbers of Japanes Americans that had returned to Japan to fight could we bomb it or since it they are citizens would we have to send in the FBI to arrest them

  • “The death penalty is something that should be used only rarely (if at all-I’m w/ the bishops that it’s not good in modern America), and if used then used in the context of a trial. The rights of trial are not merely procedural technicalities but safeguards designed to protect the dignity of life: that is, regardless of what someone has done, freedom & human life itself are so precious that we take it away only after a deliberate and careful process.”

    I think calling this the Death penalty , while a good way to try to put this in the Civil Context , is largely incorrect.

    We currently have an young American Citizen from Mobile Alabama that is in Somilia (at least was) creatingterror and destruction in his for work for AQ. In his spare time he sends out videos urging all to the join the war against the United States

    Woull targeting him be the death sentence or would it be valid military exercise?

  • I woke up this morning to the altered comments. As they’ve been discussed, I don’t think it’s fair to delete them but for the sake of avoiding any confusion I have added a note to both comments making it clear that the content was not of Iafrate’s doing. As I didn’t do the editing, I think that’s all I can do other than to promise that there will be no further editing of comments in my threads other than modifying inappropriate language. I apologize for the editing that took place and am trying to rectify it as best I can.

    If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

  • Jh:

    I’m thinking about it, but let me ask you a question: what is the difference between an assassination and a “valid military exercise?” That is, is it always permissible for another country to execute kill orders for the leaders of the opposition? If say Robert E. Lee had been shot in the back during the Civil War by a Union sniper, is that morally acceptable as a “valid military exercise?”

  • Michael D:

    Actually, there is a real-life example you can use: the targeted shooting down of Japanese Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto’s plane while on an inspection tour. Yamamoto’s plane route was discovered because we had cracked the Japanese military code. The attack was authorized by President Roosevelt:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isoroku_Yamamoto#Death

  • Michael There would be nothing wrong for a Union Sharpshooter to shoot General lee in the back

    Union and Confederate sharpshooters were shooting Officers all the time

  • Jh:

    My example was poor. Let be more specific-General Lee is sitting 300 miles from a battlefield visiting with his family. He sits down to the dinner table with one of his kids on his knees. At that moment, the Union sharpshooter fires. Or we can play with the example of a regular private, sitting at home with his family.

    I think we would agree that a sharpshooter in the heat of battle is justified in aiming at officers-it causes confusion and makes victory more likely, not to mention it is battle. One can further argue that when one is conducting military missions, like the example Price gave, one can expect to be attacked and so is permissible.

    I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    What makes the problem fuzzy w/ Obama’s decision however is trying to decide what constitutes a battlefield here. I’m not prepared to say that the decision to be a terrorist constitutes a continuous act of war. I think the US has the right to seize him arrest and use force to do, including the force necessary to defend the soldier’s lives. I’m not prepared to say that if they find him unarmed & alone they can kill him.

  • Michael D:

    A soldier on leave is not a target.

    Exactly. It is more than this, but this is the heart of the issue — for a war to be just, there are all kinds of rules for war; among them is how one finds targets (which goes with the question, is the soldier acting as a soldier, or outside of that domain). To approve of assassination in this instance is to extend the domain of the battle and the domain of what is and is not soldiering, both of which are troubling.

  • Of course the classic example is Adolph Hitler. Even before we were at war with Hitler I would have had no problem, moral or otherwise, with anyone assassinating Hitler after he came to power in Germany. The question gets much murkier when we are dealing with smaller fry in service to evil.

  • I don’t think that however we can argue that a participant in war is subject to be killed at all times regardless of whether or not they are involved in the war. A soldier on leave is not a target.

    I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever. Nor is it clear what the moral difference would be.

  • If there’s anything else MI would like me to do (or anyone has suggestions for me to do), please let me know.

    Whoever did it should personally and publicly apologize.

  • I may be wrong on this, but I’m not aware of any restriction on killing enemy soldiers who aren’t on the battlefield or on leave or whatever.

    You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

  • BA

    Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

  • BA

    BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

  • Actually, just war theory discusses the status of soldiers, and makes sure that they must be, when engaged, combatants; military necessity and proportionality are a part of the ways this is addressed in classical terms. The soldiers can be captured, but if they have given up fighting, they can’t be killed as if they were still fighting. And if they are, for example, off the battlefield, they are no longer fighting.

    I agree with all of this except the last sentence. I’ve never seen any discussion of Just War stating that you can’t kill enemy soldiers when they are “off the battlefield,” whatever that means.

  • BA

    Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath. And if you agree that prisoners of war or wounded soldiers cannot be taken out indiscriminately, why? What makes them no longer free game, if they are still soldiers?

  • BTW, this is why we can’t just take out wounded soldiers or prisoners of war; just because they are soldiers does not mean they fit the status of combatants, they can lose that status in various ways.

    Soldiers who are captured or wounded are *incapable* of fighting, and thus have traditionally been protected as noncombatants. That’s a far cry from someone who is capable of fighting, and who isn’t doing so at the moment only because he’s not aware of your presence.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release. They might be less capable, but so is someone who is not on the battlefield, without any weapons of any kind. Capture them, if you wish. Assassinate when they don’t possess a threat? What?!

  • You are wrong. The church condemns the killing of non-combatants.

    Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

  • Just gave you an example where this debate actually exists in the tradition — naked soldiers taking a bath.

    Larry May (the author you cite) argues that you shouldn’t kill a naked soldier but says that this is not a matter of justice but humaneness, and admits that his position is not the standard one. The only source he cites discussing the issue, Walzer, treats it as obvious that killing the naked soldier is permitted.

  • Just because they are wounded or captured does not mean they are incapable of fighting; many wounded people get up and fight, and many people who are captured struggle for release.

    Right, and if a wounded soldier picks up a gun and starts shooting or an enemy soldier tries to escape then they lose the protection of noncombatant status. Do you not agree with that?

  • BA:

    The point of the article is that it is an issue of concern and debate within the framework of just war discussions. And humanness and mercy is within the context of just war discussions (see Augustine). More importantly, your answer “and if they pick up a gun and starts shooting” goes back to the naked soldier point. They are not with a gun, not shooting. Remember, one aspect of just war theory is response must be just — which goes with the humanness issue of the article but he didn’t put it in that context — that is, if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.

  • “if you can capture without killing, that is what is expected.”

    In the case of al Qaeda-style terrorism, the likelihood of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed arrest scenario is probably low. More likely the “combatants” will go out like the Madrid train bombing cell.

    This is what is so vexing about jihadist terrorism; it exists in limbo somewhere lower in intensity than conventional warfare, but significantly more intense than organized crime. The Catholic moral philosopher has his work cut out for him. What is the battlefield, and who are the combatants? Is a UAV-fired missile strike legitimately called assassination, or is it just the regular course of this type of warfare? I’ve seen this stuff argued back and forth in comboxes ’til everyone is blue in the face, but I haven’t found a good treatment of the subject from a Catholic perspective.

  • Well sure. But an enemy soldier is a combatant.

    No, not always. I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

  • I saw a Marine havin’ lunch at the Pizza Hut the other day. Is he a legitimate target?

    No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

  • No, but then he’s not an enemy soldier either.

    Not to his fellow lunchtime buffet diners, no…

  • This is a fascinating discussion. With regards to these latest posts, though, how plausible would it be that an individual Marine would be targeted for an attack?

    For the purposes of the analogy, it might be better to consider a high-ranking officer, someone who has been promoted off the battlefield but nonetheless plays a major role in directing operations–say, a member of the joint chiefs of staff, or the enemy organization’s equivalent.

    When and when would not that individual be a legitimate military target?

  • And what about civilian commanders like a head of state? What about president-elects who have no power yet but certainly will unless stopped?

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  • Has anyone yet proposed a standard for what constitutes a combatant who may be legitimately targeted?

    I mean, IF…

    1. He has participated in attacks, or the planning of attacks, against the U.S.; and,

    2. He declares himself to be at war against the U.S.; and,

    3. It is not feasible to capture him;

    THEN, if he’s in a cabin or compound by himself, is it okay to blow the place up with a Hellfire missile?

    Under what circumstances is it not okay?

  • * crickets chirping *

  • The way I understand it is that in war one does not directly aim to kill but rather one aims to stop an unjust agression. Such is the case with self-defense also. Not clear at this point but some argue this is how the Church has moved captial punishment – from punishment to defense of society. Thus the moral object (perhaps) is the use of force to render an attacker impotent and not killing of the attacker. That consequence may be forsee under double effect but again is not directly intended.
    Can such an argument be used here? There is a person who is in fact, if not at that moment at some point in the past and probably in the future, involved in attacks on the US. Can we apply the above reasoning. It seems hard to make the argument that one is not directly intending the killing of a specific person in this situation. Perhaps an argument can be made that it isn’t and is licit. Perhaps, if as noted above capital punishment is not direct killing, one can apply the principle of the state executing a person to defend society.
    Then it would seem clear the guilt of the individual would need to be clearly established. In that case one would need to argue that a finding by the President on secretly held information would suffice. Does the Church say that determinations of guilt must be public and/or judicially based?

  • Phillip:

    I don’t know of any direct Church teaching on that point.

    Unless there is some passage of which I am unaware which says otherwise, I expect that the rule is a matter of the morality of individual action, initially, with social and corporate action envisioned as an outgrowth and an organization of the former. It is to the individual act that universal and objective moral laws are directly applied; the corporate organization of a nation’s laws is reflective of this individual obligation indirectly, showing forth the moral pattern at higher levels of organization in a fashion similar to the way a fractal pattern is repeated at larger scales.

    If so, then a need for determinations of guilt to be public and judicial in character is not a primary moral obligation but an outgrowth of that which is healthy for society; namely, the rule of law and the need that society’s judgments in matters of life and death be carried out in “daylight” and with great deliberation whenever possible.

    That, of course, is healthy for society. But note the caveat “whenever possible.” It is not always possible.

    The law, as it ought, provides for instances in which a man defends his family or even his property by armed force against an intruder “in the gravest extreme”; that is, when the need to stop the criminal attack is now and the soonest intervention by police is ten minutes hence. If Person Y comes storming into Person X’s house in the middle of the night, and Person X stops the invasion with a firearm, thus killing Person Y in the process, no crime is committed. (Provided there’s no disparity of force, that Person X didn’t chase Person Y while Y is fleeing the scene, and so on.) The normal orderly intervention of society was not possible in this instance.

    So too there may be — in fact, certainly are occasions when a trial and a civilian conviction and incarceration are impossible responses to an attack. Military initiative is therefore required instead. I don’t think anyone denies this; the question is how to write our laws in such a way as to (1.) adequately anticipate this need and allow for it under the law, so that the rule of law is not visibly violated every time one of these exceptional cases arises, and (2.) write the law in such a way that it does not allow the unscrupulous, incautious, or confused to exercise military initiative in instances where a capture and trial are plausible.

    Writing the law to meet those two goals in a fashion sufficient to satisfy all observers is impossible. Satisfying most observers is extremely tricky even if some of them weren’t biased towards finding fault. In an adversarial political system, in which half the observers are finding fault wherever possible in order to win the next election, you probably won’t even be able to satisfy a majority of observers.

    Which is why I wasn’t surprised when, in response to my two requests that someone propose a standard or even lay out where they thought the lines should fall, I got the blog equivalent of chirping crickets. (Even among this usually quite vocal crowd!)

    Now in a sense that request isn’t quite fair of me. Or, if the request is fair, it isn’t quite fair that I should waggle my finger at everybody for not proposing a standard. After all, I haven’t proposed one, either!

    But I’m making a larger point; namely, that criticism of a president for “going too far” in this area of policy is meaningless unless one has a standard by which one may judge he has gone too far. Without the standard, how does one know if he has gone too far?

    We have here a crowd of folks some of whom gave G.W.Bush quite a tongue-lashing for the laxity with which he carried out policies in this area. Later, a slightly different crowd with (tho’ with some overlap) gave Obama equally nasty language for doing basically what Bush did, or perhaps a bit more.

    Now one would guess from all these loud pronouncements of fire and brimstone against both presidents that every poster here has in mind a standard of what is and isn’t appropriate target-selection, which (1.) he knows to be the correct standard, (2.) can articulate, (3.) can defend against other proposed standards, and (4.) which one or both presidents have violated.

    But I suspect very few if any of the posters here really do have a well-defined standard in mind. At least I haven’t heard one articulated. And I myself am having difficulty coming up with one, so I suspect others are as well.

    But why, then, are folks giving Bush and Obama a lot of grief, if they can’t even say for sure that either man is operating outside the correct moral standards for this area of policy-making?

    I suspect it’s for two reasons: (1.) We have a gut feeling that this targeted assassination (what a choice of words: why is it considered assassination, I wonder, rather than an attack or assault?) is going too far; and, (2.) Even if it isn’t, we’re aware that a precedent granting the president power to do this sort of thing is dangerous when wielded by a man without a well-formed conscience.

    Now item (2.) is entirely logical, and if we all opposed this policy on the basis of avoiding the precedent, I would not complain of holes in our argument.

    But it seems to me that some folks are composing their criticism in such a way as to imply that Bushama have violated a standard of policy-making which everyone ought to know and which Bushama has no excuse for not knowing and following. It seems to me that they’re making this implication, without actually articulating the standard, because in reality they don’t have a clue exactly what the standard is.

    And, as I said before, I’m not sure what it should be, either.

    But let’s face up to it. On Argument 2 (dangerous precedent) we can articulate exactly what the problem is. But on Argument 1 (violation of an objective moral standard) all we have is gut feeling. And I don’t think it’s very just to blame Bushama for not having the same gut feeling as we, and following it.

  • R.C,

    I think your points are well made. There is certainly a tendency to think politically and it affects both sides of the house. I think this is showing up now on this issue. I think it has been more prominent on the torture issue. I have asked plenty of times some very vociferous opponents of torture what licit interrogation looks like and gotten no answer. I think the terrorism piece makes traditional assessments more difficult and need to be looked at dispassionately. But this is perhaps a reflection on the current state of American politics.

  • The danger in this case, and many other cases, in this thing we used to call the “global war on terror” is this- we become too accustomed to the demonization effect that creating a special kind of warfare always produces.
    Because the Muslim jihadists who cloak their cause for war in their faith make us uncomfortable, we decide that they are terrorists, rather than merely being unlawful combatants engaged in combat against a signatory nation to the various Geneva Accords. When we have to make them special because they are non-standard enemies, we commit ourselves to mental, legal, and geo-political gymnastics that always seem to produce bad results and bad decisions.
    The no-good, non-state, illicit Muslim jihadi swine declared, through action, war upon the United States (a signatory to the Geneva Accords).
    Congrtess should have declared war upon them and their supporters wherever they may be found- what they did, was authorize the POTUS to take whatever military action necessary to bring them to heel.
    In this case, the POTUS had, and still has, the legitmate authority over the armed forces of the US to prosecute the war as necessary (in compliance, where understood, with international standards for war).
    What you describe here, and what is not particularly new, is the POTUS ordering civilian (non-military) security and intelligence personnel to take lethal actions in cases where such authority is suspect at best. If the military commander assigned to the area of responsibility locates, targets, develops and strikes said scuzzy individual into non-existence, so be it. But where and when will end the POTUS’ authority to issue “kill” orders against “terrorists” at his own discretion, apparently independent of his authority as commander in chief? Certainly not at the conclusion of hostilities. Unable to even formulate a strategy to defeat global jihad without conducting all-out war, the Pentagon has adopted the capstone military concept of “persistent conflict.” Do not look for the conflict to ever end, nor for the military to seek victory.
    At water’s adge? That famous dividing line for domsetic politics is now long gone politically, as well as operationally. The new administration has been most vocal first in extending to domestic political enemies the moniker of “potential terorrists” and in declaing that home grown extremism (worded to appear to account for MAJ Hasan, in reality the wording more closely fits previous warnings about Tax Tea Partiers) is a gfreater threat than Al-qaida.

    In my opinion, the lout is an absolutely valid target. So kill him in combat, not as a covert operation of clandestine intelligence services.

And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

Thursday, January 29, AD 2009

So there’s a new You-Tube video  spreading around meant to be the final word in exposing the hypocrisy of anti-abortion advocates. In what many seem to believe is highly telling, an interviewer asks a group of demonstrating pro-lifers that, should abortion be declared illegal, if they would punish women who had abortions. Apparently the confused looks, murmured “I don’t know, I don’t think they should be punished,” and the otherwise general indication that they hadn’t thought much on the issue, somehow shows that pro-lifers do not believe that abortion is murder, or even the taking of human life. There is a huge amount of self-congratulatory straining of shoulders, clapping themselves on the back for having discovered this one-shot knockdown argument.

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33 Responses to And They Accuse Us of Brainless Sloganisms

  • Ryan,

    a good discussion.

    Third, to some extent this heinous act, while there is plenty of evidence that it does harm society in general, is a matter between the person who has procured an abortion and God.

    No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    I think in justice, one must give abortion the weight in law that it is due, and under the conditions that apply to homicide in general. The justice system has a means of considering the degree of free will attached to the killing of another human being under particular circumstances, and provides manslaughter when it is diminished. To specifically define in the law that for a mother to kill her unborn child as less serious a crime than a man killing a guard while robbing a bank is not just.

    Obviously, there would need to be intermediate measures to eliminate access to abortion and educate the populace before it could be charged criminally.

  • I’d be interested in reading anything the Church might officially say about this (???). Absent that, I’m sure there are some articles out there by Catholic thinkers on what just abortion laws would look like (???).

    (My wife and I were just talking about this last night, how Margaret Atwood’s “Handmaid’s Tale” has deluded people into believing that the pro-life cause wants a world in which every miscarriage is investigated by secret police or some such nonsense.)

  • No less than a private murder of an innocent person in their home or anywhere else that they ought to be safe.

    Of course, I realized that the statement I made sounds very soft, and I tried to qualify exactly what I meant. Let me try again to explain what I meant there.

    With abortion between a person and God, I don’t mean exclusively, because obviously abortion has severe societal impact. I mean that ultimately, all justice will be meted out, and everyone will receive their due. Some people who have abortion will sincerely repent, spend their time in purgatory, and eventually come out cleansed of their sins. Others will not repent, but due to ignorance of important details, they will spend their time in purgatory and come out cleansed. Others may persist in placing their lifestyle above God, reject God, and be lost forever. In the end, we will all reap what we have sown. To that extent, worrying much over the worldly punishments we would exact on people who have abortions is secondary to trying to outlaw abortion. Furthermore, the problem has legal ramifications that would be better served by a team of legal (and hopefully faithful Catholic) advisers who can try to make the system as a just as possible in light of the crime. Finally, trying to state on the spot what punishments should be exacted runs the risk of being vindictive and retributive in nature, rather than corrective and just. Thus, given the complications, the nuances, and everything else, it is simpler at the moment to say, “I know eventually everything will be squared away at the final judgment, and then it will be between a person and God, regardless of what happens legally.” It may seem like a cop-out, but I personally take it as an acknowledgment that the answers are neither simple nor adequately addressed by a lay person on the streets.

    I do believe a discussion of what abortions laws should look like is important, and that maybe we could take some time to look at them here. My view is in my post, but what do others think? Do you agree that a doctor giving the abortion is more culpable (or at least deserves a harsher sentence) than the woman receiving the abortion? Do we need to worry about the claims that every miscarriage would be investigated?

  • Ryan,

    I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree. I would propose that, ultimately, abortion should be defined as homicide, the justice system would sort out whether the subject’s actions and state of mind merit charge and conviction under manslaughter or murder. Obviously, if I was involved in a case I would orient towards the former for mothers, and the latter for the purveyors, but not necessarily in every case.

    I would agree that in the general case the doctors deserve a harsher sentence.

    I don’t think we need to worry all that much about miscarriage’s being investigated, any more than they already are. Doctors or others who discover evidence of intentional miscarriage would have the same obligation to report such to the authorities as I would assume they do for any other case of wrongful death. It certainly would not be the place of police to seek out these cases without any sort of complaint. This will certainly happen though, and law enforcement should probably focus efforts on the sources of the drugs rather than the recipients.

  • I don’t think I misunderstood you, I just disagree.

    Well, obviously (tongue-in-cheek) if you disagree with me, you misunderstood what I said! Heh…

    How exactly, then, do you disagree? We seem to be in lockstep with that abortion should be defined as homicide, with some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion. My statements in regard to abortion being between the woman and God were not to exclude any legal ramifications, but to explain why some people haven’t given the punishment issue much thought, and why some are justified in not concentrating on the issue. It was also an attempt to show why this pro-abortionists aren’t justified in using the lack of a definite answer as indication that pro-lifers don’t really believe abortion is murder.

  • Ryan,

    some statutes that pay attention to the state of mind of the woman getting an abortion

    I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

  • I believe the current statutes which make the distinction between manslaughter and murder #2, or #1, should suffice without a specific reference to abortion and the mother. It’s perhaps reasonable that this case could be addressed provided that it does not preclude the conclusion that mother is guilty of a greater crime should circumstances dictate.

    Not knowing the exact statues, I might hesitate, but in general, yes, I’m lockstep with you here, as well.

  • Ryan,

    I’m lockstep with you here, as well.</i<

    I must have misstated my position then… heheh

  • Now if I can only convince American Catholic blogger Ryan Harkins to put up a pic for his ID. Maybe the flag of Wyoming?

  • Concerning the Video, a couple of points you did not make. First, when I am out on the lines with my sign, and someone approaches me, I get slightly nerved up, or stressed – not a lot, just a bit. There is always the possibility that person is going to start ranting at me or something. That stress response is increased for most people when someone is holding a camera on them. The stress is increased even more when they ask you a tough question, and they are obviously trying to get you to say something they can use. Second, most people, even those on the lines, are not practiced speakers adept at articulating ‘hot button’ topics on the fly. You can tell clearly several of the interviewees are just hoping the camera people will go away.

    It is more of a cheap shot that you make it out to be.

    Beyond that nit picking, great post. It is true we need to talk more in the pro-life community about what criminalizing abortion would really look like.

    Also, if abortion were criminalized, imagine what would happen. How would the opposition react? Not just politically. Statutes and penalties should also include dealing with people who run conspiracies (organized crime) to provide abortions.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Paul @GNW_Paul

  • Thanks for the input, Paul! I admit, I did gloss over the majority of the impact of being confronted by someone with a camera just looking to get a few snippits of dialogue that they can use. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • Ryan,

    University of Wyoming Cowboys!

    Nice pic.

  • Tito,

    Thanks. As per request, I have delivered. Of course, while the bucking bronco is one of UW’s great symbols, it was also on the back of the Wyoming state quarter. (And NOTHING else!!!! We could have put in Devil’s Tower behind it, but noooooo….) So I figured it would symbolize well both my Wyomingness and my University of Wyomingness, the former being important because I might just graduate one of these semesters… (Thinking December…)

  • Ryan,

    I love the Avatar also. Big Sky territory is my land, but Wyoming is just fine with me.

    @GNW_Paul

  • Paul in the GNW,

    Your next to get an avatar.

    Maybe some rain drops or Mark Shea in purple?

  • I tried, lets see if it shows up know?

  • Paul,

    If it doesn’t show up, it’s not a big deal.

    Email me if you have any questions and I’d be happy to guide you through the process.

  • Paul,

    Forgive me if you have done this already.

    Go to this link: http://wordpress.com/signup/

    Sign up and follow the directions there. You don’t need to create a blog to create a username. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and you’ll see what I mean.

    Good luck!

  • Ryan,
    Historically in the U. S. women who underwent illegal abortions were not punished. Prior to the 19th century incomplete understanding of human embryology combined with the difficulty of proving intent in an early abortion meant that there was little effort made to prosecute anyone connected.

    The first generation of feminists–the suffragists of the 19th century–opposed abortion to a woman. This was only partly because of the risks the procedure held for women; they–perhaps more than most men outside the medical profession–quickly realized the implications of the scientific advances in human development. The Revolution, the feminist paper launched by Susan Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, often decried abortion in the strongest terms and refused to sell advertising to purveyors of “patent medicines” (many of which were abortifacients.)

    Anthony, Stanton, and their sisters-in-arms called for punishment for those who performed abortions, but not for women. Their reasoning was simple. They recognized that, while there were women who aborted out of selfishness, most did so out of desperation and for reasons that stemmed from the inherent inequality of women in the society of the day. Women were, in a sense, co-victims with their murdered babies even when they survived the abortion.

    I think there is a case for continuing this policy were abortion to be outlawed again:

    1. While legalizing something does not make it right, it does create the public perception that it is. Likewise, outlawing something creates the perception that it is wrong. Thus there are good reasons for outlawing heinous acts apart from the opportunity for prosecution of the perpetrators.
    2. Our legal system allows for compassion in the case of crimes committed under duress. (Moreover, the ethics upon which the system is founded call for compassion in such cases.)
    3. Even today, women who resort to abortion frequently do so because they feel they have “no other choice.” Abandonment or compulsion by the baby’s father or other family members is still not unusual, and societal pressures still lead many women against their consciences. Abortionists are not as a rule coerced into the trade.
    4. Women procuring an abortion may or may not have full understanding that they are taking a human life; abortionists do, or should as they are usually medical professionals.
    5. Women who have abortions do not profit financially from them (there are nonlethal alternatives to the costs of birth and childrearing) and may suffer physical or emotional harm; abortionists generally profit handsomely.

    There. Now when somebody sticks a camera in your face, you have some ammunition.

  • Cminor,

    while it’s likely that a transitory period could be considered, it would be unjust to treat abortion so much less serious a crime than murder. What about women that kill born infants because of stress and pressure? Do they not largely meet those conditions? Now, every case is different and there is a degree of lattitude permitted to prosecutors, judges, and juries with regard to charges being laid, and sentencing, and that is the place to determine any mitigating circumstances, no differently than any other murder.

  • Now I’ll try that Avatar again.

    Cminor, I agree that the abortionists should be treated more severely under the law than the women, but women who seek out abortions should be judge in court – their circumstances can be considered then.

    Paul

  • NO, one more time

  • For lack of time to write more extensively: I agree with CMinor.

  • Matt and Paul,
    I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby. Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.


  • I’ll concur and dissent, but with the caveat that if you embark on this discussion with the guy with the camcorder, anything you say will be used against you. 😉

    Agreed. Wrong time and place for sucha discussion.

    Matt, you point out that abortion isn’t really different from killing a born infant, and I agree. Nonetheless, if the objective is to obtain legal protection for unborn children, I would caution against impeding that end in the name of justice. I don’t think we’d have a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade if we made prosecuting aborted women part of the deal.

    It will be a great day when aborting a preborn baby is regarded by society at large with the abhorrence normally reserved for infanticide, but I don’t think we’re going to accomplish that overnight. Our society may well evolve to that point eventually.

    Absolutely, I am all for incremental approaches that make slow and steady progress. Even a law which bans abortion except in the case rape/incest/life of mother would be a massive step forward and would also serve to help develop the culture of life.

    In the meantime, we have to work with the society we have. Were an HLA to be passed tomorrow, we would still have to contend with a sizeable segment of the population that had become accustomed to thinking of abortion as a “right” and of the preborn baby at whatever stage as a “blob of tissue.” We can make it harder for them to act on that viewpoint, but we will not be able to change every heart and mind. (I live in former Jim Crow country. Trust me, it may take a few generations.)

    Very true, as I acknowledged earlier, a transitory period would be necessary.

    I’d predict that if we prosecuted aborted women, many would end up getting clemency because of duress anyhow–few women decide to have abortions independently of the decisions of others. There’s the impregnator’s part in the act to consider, for example, and often that of family members or employers. I don’t think it’s at all just to single out the woman for special punishment just because she’s the one who carried the baby.

    Here is where we depart company. I agree we shouldn’t single out the woman, and I’ve never said we should. Only that all the pertinent parties should charges to the extent of their participation, and degree of culpability. Let the legal system figure out the details on any particular case.

    Besides, we could end up with some awfully crowded courtrooms. But this could turn into a very long discussion, so I’ll leave it at that.

    What does the severity of the charge have to do with the degree of overcrowding? Or are you suggesting no charges at all?

  • Oh, I’m all for going after abortionists. Beyond that, no, I’m not for going after women; my intent was to suggest that if we did, it would be only fair to go after anyone who by action or inaction led the defendant to abort. Hence my remark about the “crowded courtrooms.” Somewhere in there was intended to be the suggestion that I think making a case stick at this point would be difficult given cultural factors. Sorry, it was late.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

  • I’m not for going after women

    Could we apply this exemption to early infanticide? Or is it only for women who kill their babies in the womb that no criminal penalty applies? We must apply the law evenly, that is why justice wears a blindfold.

    action or inaction led the defendant to abort.

    Wow, that’s a giant leap of jurisprudence. There is no legal system in the world which would consider that standard to make a person an accomplice to a crime. If I don’t give money to a beggar, do I go to jail with him when he robs me, or someone else? Good grief.

    At some point in the future, there may well be a case for prosecuting aborters. But I think society would have to have reached a point at which there was no compulsion to abort.

    If a person is coerced into commiting a crime then there is either a diminished or eliminated culpability, the law provides for that and is within the power of prosecutors, judges and juries to respond accordingly. Why should there be a special case for women who murder their unborn children?

    My whole point is related to the ultimate situation in which abortion is not readily available on the open market. Where any abortions which take place will be obvious to the participants to be murder, if they proceed then they ought to be charged. Obviously, as long as abortion is legal, or appears legal it isn’t just to target those who reasonably believe they are not comitting a crime.