PDA

View Full Version : Religion North Dakota "Religious liberty" measure: Freedom from traffic lights?


SNR
06-11-2012, 06:41 PM
There's a measure up for public vote in North Dakota regarding this issue of religious liberty in terms of "enduring burden". The vote is tomorrow.

Here's an NPR piece on it that describes it pretty well, I think:

http://www.npr.org/2012/06/05/154285336/n-dakota-religious-liberty-measure-sparks-debate

What a mess. I don't know how a person argues one way or the other on this damned thing. The only argument I've seen by the measure's advocates is that they're not trying to enact a change to any relevant issue or topic today. Or even years from now. It's like the guy in the NPR piece said, it "makes sure that people are protected, and religious organizations are protected, when and if they do need that protection."

"When and if." Don't ask me what the hell that means. And if you ask a supporter of this thing, they'll be equally as cryptic about it as well.

Yet at the same time, opponents are unable to really point to anything substantial that the measure will do. The firing unmarried pregnant women thing is only an interpretation of the bizarre and unspecific wording of this thing. Other opponents claim it's a strident protection of anti-gay groups and religious organizations. Yet the most hilarious overreaching interpretation I think I've seen comes from this article:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/06/07/496137/how-north-dakotas-religious-freedom-initiative-is-a-license-to-defy-traffic-lights-civil-rights-laws/
The North Dakota initiative, however, targets any law that merely ďburdensĒ a personís religious faith. In other words, even the most minor inconveniences to religious practices would be suspect under the initiative. A person who is running late to church could claim it is illegal to make them obey traffic lights.

If you were to ask me personally, I'd say vote this bitch down. If the measure isn't protecting a specific liberty or freedom that religious groups don't have. It's guarding against a future injustice that is thus far showing no signs whatsoever of brewing up in the state. The measure has no purpose whatsoever except to make things confusing as fuck regarding what religious groups can and now can not do. It accomplishes nothing.

Bwana
06-11-2012, 07:08 PM
Wow :shake:

La literatura
06-11-2012, 07:22 PM
The text doesn't mention the name, but the Supreme Court case it references is Unemployment Division v. Smith (1990). It was an incredible case because of how it diverted from SCOTUS precedent on religious liberty. It had been a liberal notion that said anytime the government basically says "Either act this way and go against your religion, or you don't get this" the Court was going to strike it down.

So when a religious peyote smoker said that the state was telling him he couldn't smoke his peyote if he wanted his unemployment benefits, the standard interpretation would have said, "Can't do that, State."

But it was Scalia who basically said, "This is nonsense." Scalia's interpretation of the religious exercise clause is pretty narrow. He has said in speeches that even as a devout Catholic, he wouldn't have considered unconstitutional if Prohibition laws would have forbid Catholic masses from giving out Communal wine (in real Prohibition, there was a Catholic mass exception).

In kind of an ironic twist, it's the Catholic community that is currently very angry about the birth control mandate in the healthcare law. That would not be Scalia's problem with the law. If he were to rule on that issue alone, he would likely declare it within the government's power.

Scalia's jurisprudence here is that in this system, it would be the voters that decide if the religious "persecution" (for lack of a better word) is going to withstand. The problem is where do minority religious rights stand? Scalia's answer is that democracy isn't always easy for minorities.

SNR
06-11-2012, 07:38 PM
The text doesn't mention the name, but the Supreme Court case it references is Unemployment Division v. Smith (1990). It was an incredible case because of how it diverted from SCOTUS precedent on religious liberty. It had been a liberal notion that said anytime the government basically says "Either act this way and go against your religion, or you don't get this" the Court was going to strike it down.

So when a religious peyote smoker said that the state was telling him he couldn't smoke his peyote if he wanted his unemployment benefits, the standard interpretation would have said, "Can't do that, State."

But it was Scalia who basically said, "This is nonsense." Scalia's interpretation of the religious exercise clause is pretty narrow. He has said in speeches that even as a devout Catholic, he wouldn't have considered unconstitutional if Prohibition laws would have forbid Catholic masses from giving out Communal wine (in real Prohibition, there was a Catholic mass exception).

In kind of an ironic twist, it's the Catholic community that is currently very angry about the birth control mandate in the healthcare law. That would not be Scalia's problem with the law. If he were to rule on that issue alone, he would likely declare it within the government's power.

Scalia's jurisprudence here is that in this system, it would be the voters that decide if the religious "persecution" (for lack of a better word) is going to withstand. The problem is where do minority religious rights stand? Scalia's answer is that democracy isn't always easy for minorities.Do you mean the thinkprogress link referencing Scalia?

Just in case anyone was curious about the full wording, here's the full text of the measure that would edit North Dakota's Constitution if it passes:

SECTION 1. A new section to Article I of the Constitution of North Dakota is created and enacted as follows:

Government may not burden a personís or religious organizationís religious liberty. The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has a compelling governmental interest in infringing the specific act or refusal to act and has used the least restrictive means to further that interest. A burden includes indirect burdens such as withholding benefits, assessing penalties, or an exclusion from programs or access to facilities.

La literatura
06-11-2012, 07:42 PM
Do you mean the thinkprogress link referencing Scalia?

Oh, I had just read the NPR article. I am impressed with the thinkprogress author for knowing that.