Listen to Mike Maturen’s Interview with Christian Humanist!

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Listen to American Solidarity Party presidential candidate Mike Maturen talk about the roots of the party and his own personal life in his interview with Christian Humanist!

“In today’s episode, Coyle interviews Mike Maturen, the Presidential candidate for the American Solidarity Party. The Solidarity Party is an American Christian Democratic Party rooted in Catholic social teaching. The party seeks “to promote the common good and the material and spiritual welfare of all people, thereby raising consciousness of the Christian worldview.” Coyle asks Mr. Maturen about the Solidarity Party, his background, and his interests.”

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The Plague of Patriotism and the Cure of Solidarity

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Leo Tolstoy was a critic of many things; one of them was patriotism. I largely agree with that critique. This will, undoubtedly, make me seem an America-hating liberal by the not-so-progressives that currently brand themselves as conservative. Indeed, it seems a cardinal sin for  which only 20 years plus in the military or as a police office could ever grant you absolution. Yet, to those who have read Tolstoy’s critique of patriotism, know that this is part of his point. Patriotism divides people who should otherwise be unified to satisfy governmental ends.

We should examine the context of Tolstoy’s critique. His essay “On Patriotism” was written in 1894. In his life, he has seen Russia lose the Crimean War and his family was intimately connected to the efforts in the War of 1812 or the Napoleonic Invasion of Russia. His assessment of those conflicts and the conflicts all about Europe and the respective colonies–the First Bohr War, the Franco-Prussian War, the Russo-Japanese War, the formation of the Triple Entente, ethnic struggles in Austro-Hungary and Serbia, etc–was that patriotism was the driving force to garner support among the populace.

For a long while there has not been and cannot be any reason for dissension between Christian nations. It is even impossible to imagine, how and for what, Russian and German workmen, peacefully and conjointly working on the frontiers or in the capitals, should quarrel. And much less easily can one imagine animosity between some Kazan peasant who supplies Germans with wheat, and a German who supplies him with scythes and machines.
It is the same between French, German, and Italian workmen. And it would be even ridiculous to speak of the possibility of a quarrel between men of science, art, and letters of different nationalities, who have the same objects of common interest independent of nationalities or of governments.

Tolstoy relates the relative peace of Europe. It is a peace that Voltaire, himself writing in the aftermath of several wars, attributed to commerce. Tolstoy attributes it to commerce, humanity, and Christianity. Essentially, the average life of a German or Frenchman does not lead them to commit acts of violence against one another. Left to their own devices, these supposed rivals are perfectly willing to trade and converse with one another.

Stories from World War I, for example, about impromptu cease fires between Central and Allied forces on Christmas and Christmas Eve would be wholly unremarkable to Tolstoy and should seem wholly unremarkable to us. Both sides are united by an overarching commonality: Christianity. Indeed, a Christian in his natural state in the company of other Christians is relax if not genuinely festive. Tolstoy could only account for such movements of Christians–as he says in War and Peace–from west to east and then east to west by showing some outside actor stirring them to some other sentiment besides Christianity.

But the various governments cannot leave the nations in peace, because the chief, if not the sole, justification for the existence of governments is the pacification of nations, and the settlement of their hostile relationships. Hence governments evoke such hostile relationships under the aspect of patriotism, in order to exhibit their powers of pacification. Somewhat like a gipsy who, having put some pepper under a horse’s tail, and beaten it in its stall, brings it out, and hanging on to the reins, pretends that he can hardly control the excited animal.

I am not so jaded to agree with Tolstoy on all points here; government has more justification than to pacify other nations. But if we consider the rhetoric used to justify modern conflicts from World War I onward, I can think of only one exception where American involvement was not mostly motivated out of patriotic zeal: World War II i.e. fixing the mess we created with the Treaty of Versailles.

Patriotism played an essential part in American involvement in World War I, the Korean War, the Vietnam War,  and the Iraq War for starters all relied on exciting public sentiment with patriotic rhetoric to garner national support for their endeavors. It is much easier to say, “Those people over there are a threat to our way of life and our nation; we must drive them out or be destroyed,” rather than try to explain the complex and intricate rationales for invading another country. Patriotism is not even honest with itself, let alone the people it inspires. We were told that we were bringing democracy to Iraq; what was not said was that Western democracy and indeed American democracy relies on acceptance of certain common notions that were just not in the Iraqi experience. The war then became a war between the patriotism and not combatants.

We are told that governments are very careful to maintain peace between nations. But how do they maintain it? People live on the Rhine in peaceful communication with one another. Suddenly, owing to certain quarrels and intrigues between kings and emperors, a war commences; and we learn that the French government has considered it necessary to regard this peaceful people as Frenchmen. Centuries pass, the population has become accustomed to their position, when animosity again begins amongst the governments of the great nations, and a war is started upon the most empty pretext, because the German government considers it necessary to regard this population as Germans: and between all Frenchmen and Germans is kindled a mutual feeling of ill-will.

Here Tolstoy is referencing the Franco-Prussian War which, in all honesty, was started because the Confederation of the Rhine and the Kingdom of Prussia thought Lorraine and Alsace belonged to them for the stated reason that Germans lived there. Stirring up the patriotic sentiment that they must immediately invade another country to save their kith and kin from a nation, by all reasonable measures, did no harm to them was exactly what the Germans did to justify to their people their desire for Lorraine and Alsace.

Patriotism in its simplest, clearest, and most indubitable signification is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason, and conscience, and a slavish enthralment to those in power. And as such it is recommended wherever it is preached.

Again, I am not in total agreement here. Compare the sentiments during Euromaiden and the Crimean Secession. In the former, we have the patriotism of the Ukrainians welling up after years of frustration with their government selling out to a foreign government. The Ukrainian people themselves, unified by their ethnic, religious, and philosophical sentiments, marched on their government to demand changes. This patriotism did not stem from an outside voice causing emotion to well up in the Ukrainian people. Rather, it was a collective inward voice that spoke out against the wrongs they saw. I call this Solidarity. It was the same inward voice compelling the Polish workers to resist the Soviets in the 1980s and secured their own free and fair elections.

In Crimea, we see the invented patriotism previously discussed. The national sentiment concerning secession was mixed, muddled, and varied. The excuse from Russia was that ethnic Russians needed to be protected from Ukrainian aggressors who were not aggressive during a referendum that would decide whether Crimea would be part of Russia. The ambitious of ethnic Russians in both Crimea and Russia were obvious. The patriotism that they stirred up to have an entire nation annexed was also obvious. Yet who could, without bringing condemnation upon themselves, condemn it? Who can say that the Ukrainian patriotism and the Crimean patriotism were not both legitimate? What we can say is that patriotism has been damaging to Eastern European stability.

Consider the damage that American patriotism has caused in our own country. Differing views on what is patriotic or unpatriotic devolve into shouting matches for ideologues. Muslims in America went from a generally Republican base to a Democrat one in four short years as being Muslim became increasingly an unpatriotic thing to be. Patriotism has been instrumental in polarizing our country on issues that it doesn’t even make sense to be divided on. All this division can be traced back to invented patriotism of partisan politicians who need animosity to fuel their campaign. These marching orders from the powers that be on how to be patriotic and therefore a good American are then passed off as

It is sufficient that people should understand that what is enunciated to them as public opinion, and maintained by such complex, energetic, and artificial means, is not public opinion, but only the lifeless outcome of what was once public opinion; and, what is more important, it is sufficient that they should have faith in themselves, that they should believe that what they are conscious of in the depths of their souls, what in every one is pressing for expression, and is only not expressed because it contradicts the public opinion supposed to exist, is the power which transforms the world, and to express which is the mission of mankind: it is sufficient to believe that truth is not what men talk of, but what is told by his own conscience, that is, by God – and at once the whole artificially maintained public opinion will disappear, and a new and true one be established in its place.

If people would only speak what they think, and not what they do not think, all the superstitions emanating from patriotism would at once drop away with the cruel feelings and violence founded upon it. The hatred and animosity between nations and peoples, fanned by their governments, would cease; the extolling of military heroism, that is of murder, would be at an end; and, what is of most importance, respect for authorities, abandonment to them of the fruits of one’s labour, and subordination to them, would cease, since there is no other reason for them but patriotism. And if merely this were to take place, that vast mass of feeble people who are controlled by externals – would sway at once to the side of the new public opinion, which should reign henceforth in place of the old.

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The Founders didn’t rebel from England because they had some sentiment, rather because they had authentic concern for the welfare of their neighbor.

The American Solidarity Party offers a different path: Solidarity. Yes, there will always be disagreements, but those disagreements should not be based in lies and misconceptions designed to fulfill ambitions for power and influence. National cooperation, harmony between the individual states depend on Solidarity. The old maxim, “United we stand; divided we fall” is a catchy reminder of this reality. American political life thrives when there is cooperation and conciliation between people.

 

We need to reject those “public opinions” that are not actually the public’s opinion. I find it hard to believe that at least 30% of the public actually support whatever the two major parties espouse. Instead, I believe that the two major parties have created brands of patriotism that one must ascribe to in order to be heard. It is a system that stamps out the true public opinion in exchange for their patriotism. And we do violence to our brothers and sisters in the name of this patriotism and we are justified by it.

Solidarity has no such aim. Solidarity actively seeks for the good of all, not the good of some ideology now deemed patriotic. The common good is not something you can make up on a Sunday afternoon; it is something that all men strive for because they are men. It is not some far-flung idealism but the the fundamental object of all human action. If we realized that and came together in Solidarity, then things like patriotism i.e. artificial and inauthentic sentiments that pit one group against another in bitter and violent animosity.

And this peace is indeed among us, and depends on us for its attainment. If only the hearts of individuals would not be troubled by the seductions with which they are hourly seduced, nor afraid of those imaginary terrors by which they are intimidated; if people only knew wherein their chiefest, all-conquering power consists – a peace which men have always desired, not the peace attainable by diplomatic negotiations, imperial or kingly progresses, dinners, speeches, fortresses, cannon, dynamite, and melinite, by the exhaustion of the people under taxes, and the abduction from labour of the flower of the population, but the peace attainable by a voluntary profession of the truth by every man, would long ago have been established in our midst.

Is a Third Party Vote Wasted?

You can’t talk about voting for a third party for very long before someone will say, “I don’t like either major candidate, but I’m not going to waste my vote on a third party.”

But is it a waste?

Those who make such comments would point out that, particularly in the presidential race, the odds of actually electing a third party candidate are quite small.  In this sense, success is virtually impossible and so the vote is “wasted.”  But voting Republican in California, or Democratic in Alabama, is also virtually guaranteed to “fail,” in the sense that these states’ electoral votes are foregone conclusions.

Voting third party, like voting Republican in California or Democratic in Alabama, can send a powerful message.  It demonstrates that there are voters out there, voters willing to go to the polls, who have values that are not currently being reflected by the major parties.  This is an invitation – to the major parties, to donors, to fellow voters – to rally to those values and the voters who stand by them.

Voting always involves a moral hazard.  When you vote for someone you support them, their pros and their cons alike.  We generally weigh these and find someone whose positive traits and policies we think are more significant than their shortcomings.  Nevertheless, by casting a vote, we are, in some measure, supporting those shortcomings too.  In settling for a major party candidate, you may be taking on a larger moral hazard than you’d like.  Why not choose a third party candidate with whom your conscience can sleep well at night?

“But what about the Supreme Court?” some people ask.  Are we not obligated to vote for a major party candidate, however bad, in the hope of saving the highest court from the justices that the other candidate would appoint?  As writers all over the internet have been pointing out, that line of thinking is filled with holes.  It rests on a long string of “maybes” and “what ifs,” ignores the role of the Senate in confirming justices, plays upon fear, and overlooks the poor quality of justices we’re likely to get from either candidate.

Next month you can send a clear message that you want something different.  You can vote third party.  You can vote for American Solidarity.  Or you can add your vote to the sea of messages you did not craft and with which you do not agree.

The choice is yours.

Seeking Solidarity: Solidarity in the Days When Conservatives Left Conservatism

In high school and college, I had an aversion to G.K. Chesterton. His style was grumpy, critical, and, as I put it, snarky. As you read him, you could almost hear the sarcasm and disdain dripping from his corpulent lips. In recent years, however, I have learned to look past his penchant for looking down his nose at people he disagreed with to find the wondrous nuggets of wisdom.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types — the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”

Either Chesterton had some prescient knowledge beyond the ken of mortal man or modern society hasn’t changed in several decades; regardless of which is true, Chesterton accurately describes the current political crisis in America and the reason someone like Trump could become the nominee of a party that once prided itself on its stances on life, free trade, quiet jingoism, and other “conservative” principles.

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“When men stop believing in God, they start believing in anything.” Including Trump’s Wall.

But the old conservatism is dead and a new conservatism has arisen from its ashes, just as Chesterton said it would. 30 years ago, the GOP would have never nominated someone with such an undefined stance on abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, or gay marriage. George Bush I and George Bush II, for example, were both criticized for their stances on these topics as not being pro-life enough. Romney was the same way and it actually hurt the generally pro-life and Catholic Paul Ryan in the VP debate during that election. In other words, in those 30 years, pro-life moved from opposing abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, and the death penalty to being sort of against abortion…maybe. In fact, it could be said that progressives are more honest than conservatives because they are willing to abandon previously held beliefs without much argument while conservatives dither about for 30 years before gradually coming to the same position.

Instead of calling them the party of no, it is more accurate to call them the party of not yet. Thus, the political dichotomy is not between progressives and conservatives, but between progressives and not-as-progressives. What is someone who is actually conservative to do? We cannot pin our hopes on Reaganism; it has died with Reagan. Instead, a true conservative would look back on the centuries of tradition, custom, and wisdom from the ancients. This goes against the principles of modern conservatism because modern conservatism is modern. Apart from emotional appeals to the founders, their connection to the past is limited to about 30 years.

The American Solidarity Party looks back in this way upon the treasure trove of wisdom and experience human history and philosophy give us. We are not conserving just the last 30 years or even the last 3000 years. We are conserving what it means to be human; we are conserving the Truth. For example, our most basic principle, Solidarity, has been around since the first humans banded together for warmth and food. The very foundations of our party are based in the real human experience. We are called idealists and unrealistic by critics, but those critics are the same that often deny the metaphysical or spiritual realities of man until they have to get votes. I do not believe that we are doomed and that the efforts of the American Solidarity Party are in vain. Rather, like Chesterton, “I do not believe in fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

As the above meme outlines, our failure to act for the common good, to honor the tradition and wisdom of the ancients, to give a vote to the departed is what gives us the progressives and the not-so-progressives. It is is what stagnates true progress and increases national disunity and partisan antagonism. The odds are daunting indeed, but as Chesterton said, “Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exists, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Fight the dragons in American. Vote Solidarity. It worked for Poland.

Vote Jeopardizes the Health and Safety of Virginia Women

From the Virginia Catholic Conference that led efforts to oppose proposed measures undertaken by the Virginia Board of Health:

“The Virginia Board of Health capped a 12-hour meeting yesterday by voting to hollow out critical regulations for Virginia abortion clinics, placing the profits of the abortion industry above the health and safety of Virginia women. The board’s vote included dozens of votes on amendments never vetted with Virginians as required by state law, and came despite repeated warnings from medical experts about inadequate infection control standards, and concerns voiced by fellow board members that the board was exceeding its authority.

The Board, comprised of 15 members, all but 4 of whom were appointed by Governor McAuliffe, opted to weaken the very regulations that in March of this year allowed state health inspectors to uncover filthy conditions at a Fairfax abortion clinic reminiscent of the infamous Kermit Gosnell’s “House of Horrors.” That inspection led the State Health Commissioner to suspend the clinic’s license indefinitely.

The Board passed originally proposed amendments that dealt primarily with construction standards, but it also passed additional amendments—first offered yesterday—thereby dramatically exceeding the scope of the original Notice of Intended Regulatory Action. Hence, in addition to weakening 22 different areas of the regulations, the Board acted illegally by passing amendments never before submitted for public comment. Among the most egregious amendments that threaten Virginia women:
The Board passed an amendment offered by member and former State Senator Mary-Margaret Whipple giving the Health Commissioner unprecedented authority to grant permanent waivers to the regulations without any explanation. This effectively allows the Health Commissioner to unilaterally ignore the regulations, including those that have uncovered unsanitary conditions in Virginia abortion clinics.

It repealed a regulation requiring abortion clinics to maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a local hospital in case a patient requires hospitalization after an abortion due to complications. This requirement is currently followed by all Virginia abortion clinics.

It repealed a regulation requiring abortion clinics to provide or refer to resources for post-abortion counseling, a regulation supported by none other than the abortion industry “regulatory” agency, the National Abortion Federation.

It struck all references to CDC Infection Prevention Guidelines, the standard adhered to by health care facilities across the nation.
The Board passed these and many other amendments weakening the regulations despite the objection of board members who repeatedly cautioned fellow members that the board was exceeding its regulatory authority.

During a two-hour comment period earlier in the day, several medical professionals, including OB/GYNs, nurses, and infectious disease specialists urged the Board to maintain basic clinical operating standards for abortion clinics. Their remarks were ignored and jeered at by pro-abortion forces.

Yesterday’s outcome proves that the health and safety of Virginia women is negotiable. The abortion industry, which contributed $2 million in campaign contributions to the current governor, was the clear and predetermined winner.

The next step in the process is a review of the approved amendments by both the Office of the Attorney General and the Governor. However, yesterday’s vote will likely lead to costly and lengthy litigation, further delaying protection for women who visit abortion centers.”

The American Solidarity Party opposes abortion but is opposes also the degradation of health code standards for one surgical and medical industry. This is political favoritism at the expense of women, many of them poor and struggling. Virginia abortion clinics have been found in the past to be unsanitary and unsafe by any standard. This is not pro-women; this is pro-abortion industry. The American Solidarity Party calls on all Virginians of good will to demand that the Governor and Attorney General support protections to women’s health and make these regulations stand.

Minutes of the October Meeting of the ASPVA State Committee

In conformity with the by-laws and in the interest of transparency, the minutes as recorded by Secretary Aaron Linderman are set forth as follows:

On Saturday, 22 October, the State Committee held an online meeting. Stephen Ferry, Aaron Linderman, and Karis White attended.

Because this was the first meeting since the passage of the new bylaws, in accordance with those bylaws, officers were selected from the membership of the Committee: Mr. Ferry as Chairman, Mrs. White as Treasurer, Dr. Linderman as Secretary.

The Committee discussed the need to expand ongoing outreach and communication efforts. To that end, the Committee agreed to ask for volunteers to serve as a media coordinator and a membership coordinator. The media coordinator will lead a team of volunteers who engage with the media, particularly as issues emerge or are in the news, ensuring that the ASP position on these topics gets out.

The membership coordinator will oversee efforts to sign up new members, particularly by means of physically meeting people (as occurred, for the first time, and to good effect, in Northern Virginia on Friday).

The Committee will also call for volunteers to be regional coordinators, to help coordinate meet-ups, attendance at local hearings of concern, etc. Regions may be merged or new ones created as needed, depending upon the needs of the party and members.

The Committee discussed our outreach strategy and the need to reach new groups of people. To that end, we will develop some basic talking points, a list of frequently asked questions, and a basic flyer or pamphlet, which members can use for presentations to local civic, educational, or religious organizations, at fairs or conventions, etc. During the next legislative session, ASP VA will identify legislation of concern and work to build alliances with other groups concerned about these items. Dr. Linderman will lead the drafting of the FAQs; Mrs. White will track legislation.

The Committee also discussed plans to release a voting guide, examining the positions and voting records of candidates for office. The guide will be accompanied by a statement that ASP VA cannot, at this time, endorse candidates for office, since none meet the full breadth of our vision and ideological polarization is just too high. However, we offer this information on the candidates for the informed consideration of voters.

Finally, the Committee discussed the pros and cons of becoming an incorporated entity. Such status would require us to file tax returns each year, even in the absence of funds. Until we are planning a serious fundraising effort, we will forego incorporation.

Watch American Solidarity Party’s Mike Maturen in First Ever Presidential Debate!

 

Featured Image -- 34Americans are increasingly looking outside the two major parties for a new association to call home, disgusted with the corruption and radicalization of both parties. Tonight at 8pm Eastern Time, two presidential candidates from third parties will be debating each other: Joe Schriner, an independent, and Mike Maturen, the American Solidarity Party candidate. Tune in to see Mr. Maturen and Mr. Schriner talk about the issues actually facing Americans and get a breath of issue based air in a political climate of insults and vitriol.

Should You Fear a Clinton Presidency because of the Supreme Court?

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Originally posted here.

by guest writer H. Lillian Vogl

What About the Supreme Court?

I am hearing this question a lot these days. The next President will appoint at least one Justice to the Supreme Court, and possibly as many as three or four. If that next President is Hillary Clinton, will that cause a serious setback to conservative priorities, especially the pro-life movement? Will that result in Christian persecution that will make it difficult for us to have political influence going forward? Will it doom the nation to irrevocable decline?

Well, I think I am actually a good person to answer that question. I’m an honors graduate of a “top 10” law school and a member of the Federalist Society for the past 15 years. I have close friends who have been and are Supreme Court clerks, and others who have been Senate staffers vetting Supreme Court nominees. All on the conservative side of the legal balance. These friends have been rather quiet this election season. I hear alarm bells being rung mostly by people who have no close experience with the federal judiciary, and let me explain why.

U.S. Government 101: How Are Supreme Court Justices Appointed?

I’m sure you learned this in school at some point, but just in case anyone forgot: the President does not appoint Supreme Court Justices (or judges to lower federal courts) by himself or herself. “Advice and consent” of the Senate is required. While technically only 51 votes are required to “consent,” the filibuster rules of the Senate mean that 41 Senators in opposition can block any Presidential appointment.

If you really care about the Supreme Court, focus your attention on the Senate races. Polls show the Republicans and Democrats neck in neck for controlling the Senate. At the end of the day, the Republicans will probably hold 48-52 seats—more than enough to filibuster any hard-left nominees that might be put up. A majority is preferable, of course. So if you want the Supreme Court to protect conservatives and you live in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Missouri, Florida, or Wisconsin, make sure you get out and vote for the Republican Senate candidate in your state. If you don’t live in one of those states and really want to help, go volunteer for a few days or send money to one of these races.

Whether there are 52 or 48 Republicans or anything in between, the threat of a filibuster is always going to hang over the head of Hillary, moderating her picks. No President has nominated anyone considered to be extreme left or extreme right since Robert Bork’s name became an epithet in 1987. This is even true of President Obama’s two appointments to the Supreme Court, who were confirmed in 2009-2010 when there were 60 Senate Democrats and the Republicans had NO ability to filibuster a nomination on a party-line vote.

Now Barack Obama had a reputation when he taught law classes of espousing Critical Legal Theory, which combines a sympathy for Marxism with a deep skepticism that the law is knowable and belief that legal decisions are really just about what a judge thinks is “fair” or who holds power. And yet Obama did not appoint Justices embracing this philosophy. Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor have often joined in unanimous decisions limiting government overreach of power, even when the government’s purpose was sympathetic and meant to help “the little guy.”  In other words, they have not been disastrous Justices. Hillary Clinton’s track record in politics is one of center-left pragmatism. It is hard for anyone familiar with the workings of Supreme Court nominations to imagine her appointing anyone more liberal than Obama’s picks and trying to push them through the Senate gamut.

The Supreme Court Probably Isn’t Going to Overturn Anything Decided In the Past 50 Years

You think a few Supreme Court appointments will result in overturning Roe v. Wade, or Citizens United (free political speech for incorporated groups), or Obergefell v. Hodges (right to same-sex marriage), or Heller v. District of Columbia (individual right to own guns)?  That’s not how it works. That’s not how any of this works.

The Supreme Court does not just take up issues because they want to decide them or reevaluate them. They decide nothing until there is a “case in controversy” that has wound its way through the federal court system and four Justices decide it’s worth taking the case.

But let’s back up. First a state or federal legislature has to pass a law that is constitutionally suspect, or that could be applied in constitutionally suspect ways. Then the government has to actually enforce (or not enforce) the law in a way that causes harm to a particular person, such that they have a credible claim their constitutional rights have been denied. Then such a person has to decide to file a lawsuit and obtain high-priced lawyers to do so. Then the case is argued in a federal district court, and decided by federal district judges who are usually fastidious about following the precedent of higher federal courts. There has to be enough gray area about applying that precedent to get a federal appeals court to reconsider the district court decision. After the appeals court makes a decision, either party can ask the Supreme Court to review, called a writ of certiorari. Most of the time the Supreme Court says no. Usually they only say yes if different appeals courts have come to contradictory conclusions on similar issues, or if there is significant gray area in the law that could use clarifying. This process takes a few years, at minimum.

And even when a case makes it to the Supreme Court, one of their core principles in deciding cases is called “stare decisis.” As the Cornell University Law School legal dictionary explains:

Stare decisis is Latin for “to stand by things decided.” … According to the Supreme Court, stare decisis “promotes the evenhanded, predictable, and consistent development of legal principles, fosters reliance on judicial decisions, and contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process.” In practice, the Supreme Court will usually defer to its previous decisions even if the soundness of the decision is in doubt.

Any law student can name for you the mere handful of times in the Supreme Court’s history that it has outright reversed previous decisions. Brown v. Board of Educationreversing Plessy v. Ferguson on the issue of “separate but equal.” West Coast Hotelreversing Lochner on whether the government can restrain freedom of contract by regulation. Lawrence v. Texas overturning Bowers v. Hardwick on whether the right of sexual privacy is only for heterosexual couples. There isn’t much else. The Supreme Court has even declined to reverse something as wrong and frivolous as the decision in 1922 that Major League Baseball wasn’t “engaged in interstate commerce” and therefore not subject to antitrust laws.

Historically, We’ve Had Much Worse Supreme Courts and the Republic Lived to Tell

Speaking of really wrong Supreme Court decisions that have never been officially overturned, have you heard of the case of Buck v. Bell? It’s an infamous one from 1927 in which the Supreme Court approved of a state law forcing mandatory sterilization on women who were declared to be “feeble-minded” by the state. “Three generations of imbeciles is enough,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (in)famously opined. If you think the HHS mandate that would force the Little Sisters of the Poor to include contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans is bad, take a gander at the forced sterilization and other eugenic programs and attempts to ban private (especially Catholic) education in the first 3 decades of the 20th century.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court struck down the latter in Pierce v. Society of Sisters(1925), but it is incredible today that the right to choose a private school for one’s own child would even be called into question. Ironically, the right articulated in Pierce later was used to justify Roe v. Wade (among other things), but no state today would try to take away the right to send children to private schools. The Hobby Lobby decision finding that even private for-profit companies enjoy religious conscience protections has the benefit of stare decisis. So do Citizens United and Heller.

A key point to understand is how legal academia has greatly shifted over the past 3 decades. From the 1920s through the 1970s legal academia scoffed at the notion of originalist or literal interpretations of the law. Since the Federalist Society emerged in the early 1980s and the late Justice Scalia started writing his famous originalist opinions in the late 80s, the originalist/textualist perspective has had outsized influence in the judiciary and legal academia, so virtually all judges today will at least engage in textual analysis. There have been a lot of unanimous Supreme Court decisions striking down Executive overreach of the Obama Administration. We’re a long way from the Supreme Court of the 1960s and 70s when the Justices watched putative porn films to decide whether they were obscene based on the “I know it when I see it” standard.

Bottom Line

Yes, it is a shame that Justice Scalia died when he did, but he leaves an enduring legacy on the American Judiciary. Yes, Hillary Clinton will not be inclined to appoint Justices who would try to overturn Roe v. Wade. But as someone once famously said, “what difference does it make?” The truth is, not much. We won’t be taking the first step into a thousand years of darkness. Political and Christian conservatives are not going to be persecuted and repressed (unless you really think being enjoined to bake a cake for someone whose lifestyle you don’t approve of constitutes persecution and repression). Just chill out about the Supreme Court, focus on what you can do locally and personally to change the culture (the Supremes will eventually follow), and be grateful that Justice Holmes isn’t around anymore to find you “feeble minded.”

P.S. Many of the most prominent and respected “originalists” in legal academia (i.e. Scalia acolytes) now are publicly repudiating the Supreme Court argument for voting for Trump.

H. Lillian Vogl is a radically Catholic social media crusader, mother of two loving free spirits, reformed from being Reformed, recovering lawyer and lobbyist, and professional expert in death and taxes.

Oppose VA AG Deregulation of Abortion Industry

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The Virginia Board of Health is holding a final vote on Monday, October 24 at 9 AM. The amendments being voted on aim to deregulating critical safety regulations in abortion clinics. The meeting is being held at the Sheraton Inn Airport (4700 S. Laburnum Ave, Richmond, VA 23231). This is not a fight to limit abortion; this is a fight to protect women’s lives. The Virginia Catholic Conference enumerates the following proposals being discussed:
  • Striking regulations that require abortion clinics to comply with state and local fire codes, including requirements that clinics maintain a fire evacuation plan and that exits be clearly marked and clear of obstruction in case a fire evacuation is necessary;
  • Removing penalties for failure to comply with patient recordkeeping requirements; and
  • Stripping abortion clinics of requirements to maintain infection control standards in compliance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Women deserve quality healthcare that is safe and has due regard for the welfare of the patient. These proposals would not only make abortions even more accessible, but they put lives of vulnerable women at risk for serious health problems. Even if you support abortion, these proposals reduce the standard of care for women during a critical and painful time in their lives. It further exempts an entire healthcare industry from complying with basic laws that ordinary hospitals and medical clinics already follow. It is politicizing something so intimate and sensitive: a woman’s health.

Come and support women by demanding their healthcare in all circumstances meet basic safety standards that all other medical facilities already follow. Above all, support the right a child has to be born with the freedom it was conceived with.

Statement from the Virginia Catholic Confrence

Originally posted here. 

Election Message from Bishops Francis DiLorenzo and Paul Loverde, October 2016

Only a few weeks away from the November 8 elections, we are reminded of what Pope Francis said to politicians and the faithful, just weeks before the 2015 election. Centering us in the words of the Gospel, the Holy Father urged “the entire people of the United States” – public officials and voters alike – to follow the “clear direction” of the Golden Rule (MT 7:12), which guides us to “treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated.” He also said, “You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.”

This means on Election Day and throughout the year – even when the political discourse around us is uncivil – our civic duty calls us to engage in the political process.

As our brother U.S. bishops emphasize, “This duty [to work for a just ordering of society] is more critical than ever in today’s political environment, where Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised, sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the Church’s comprehensive commitment to the life and dignity of every human being from conception to natural death. Yet this is not a time for retreat or discouragement; rather, it is a time for renewed engagement.” (Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, No. 16, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2015)

The foundation of this “renewed engagement” is a well-tuned conscience — one shaped by prayer, the Sacraments, learning and discerning the issues at hand and the character of the candidates and, finally, by understanding the guiding principles of our faith.

Four principles of Catholic social teaching light the way: Preserving the inherent dignity of every human person; striving to satisfy the common good; and incorporating the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity. For more on each of these principles, visit http://www.vacatholic.org and http://www.faithfulcitizenship.org.

Church teaching tells us the dignity of the human person is the core of Catholic moral and social teaching and the foundation of a moral vision for society. This dignity calls us to oppose all activities that contribute to what Pope Francis has called “a throwaway culture.” As the U.S. Bishops note, “Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. . . . If we understand the human person as the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ – the living house of God – then these issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation.” (Living the Gospel of Life, No. 22, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1998) As we weigh the issues, it is essential to recognize that not all issues carry the same moral weight. Our moral obligation to oppose policies that promote intrinsically evil acts must weigh first on our consciences and actions. Intrinsically evil acts are actions we must never do because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. These include abortion (which occurs more than a million times each year in the U.S.), euthanasia, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, genocide, torture, racism, targeting noncombatants in acts of terror or war and redefining marriage.

As we reflect on intrinsically evil actions, we note in particular two areas of confusion that have resurfaced during this campaign season.

The first area of confusion is that one can be “personally” opposed to abortion, yet continue to publicly support laws which allow it. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of both natural law and Church teaching. The common good and Christian charity compel us to work toward overturning – not supporting or acquiescing to – all unjust laws. The basic principle of equality affirms that every human being has an equal right to life. Abortion denies this right to an entire class of human beings, and therefore permitting it is gravely unjust and fundamentally at odds with the foundational concept of equality. Indeed, “It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.” (FC, No. 22)

The second area of confusion relates to the institution of marriage. In response to claims that this institution can be redefined, or that even the Church could one day change its teaching on marriage, we re-affirm that marriage is and can only ever be the union of one man and one woman. This is not merely the doctrine of any one religion, but rather an understanding of our basic human nature.

This clarity is essential as we consider how to vote and how to promote the common good. Choices about how to vote are often difficult. As we noted, many issues are important; not all issues have equal weight; and our preeminent obligation is to protect the right to life upon which every other right depends. Our faith tells us we must also carefully discern the candidate’s commitments, character, integrity and ability to influence a given issue.

Our Virginia Catholic Conference website at http://www.vacatholic.org provides resources to assist voters as they prepare for the election, including a comparison of the two major party presidential candidates’ stances on important issues; a list of third-party presidential candidates; a Congressional Voter Guide; and Four Principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Even in difficult elections Catholics are called to bring charity and civility into the public square. We join together in prayer and reflection, so that with wisdom and fortitude, we may choose our elected leaders with a correctly formed conscience.

Faithfully Yours in Christ,

 

Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde                                   Most Reverend Francis X. DiLorenzo