Retired Judge Darrell White

O’Connor Disrespects the Constitution!

By Retired Judge Darrell White
 
 

 

Sandra Day O’Connor, now a retired Supreme Court justice, has rendered another decision illustrative of the contempt she shows for the Constitution, particularly the text of our First Amendment.  Her opinion, while sitting as a  “fill-in” judge on a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, held that excluding persons who pray “in Jesus’ name” (from a rotational roster of officials who open city business meetings) is a fair and reasonable way “not to exclude or disparage a particular faith.” 
The focus of the dispute is Fredericksburg, Va. Councilman Hashmel Turner (pictured below)– a Baptist minister – whose practice of concluding his prayers “in Jesus’ name” prompted a threat of litigation by offended listeners.  In response, the city adopted a non-sectarian prayer requirement, imposing a ban on any reference to “Jesus.”  When Reverend Turner sued, O’Connor upheld the ordinance, writing that “Turner was not forced to offer a prayer that violated his deeply-held religious beliefs. Instead he was given a chance to pray on behalf of the government.”  Behind that rhetoric is one unmistakable conclusion: conform to political correctness or face the punishment of exclusion.  Has O’Connor decided that the United States of America is no longer “under God?”
I’d like to know where O’Connor found Reverend Turner’s name in the First Amendment.  He clearly is not “Congress” – the focal point of our First Amendment’s prohibition against making a “law respecting an establishment of religion.” 
The word “Congress” is used sixty times in the Constitution and its amendments.  Why is it that our federal courts are so thoroughly confused over the word’s meaning in the First Amendment?  There are no battles over the other 59 uses.
O’Connor’s long-standing disregard for history and the clear text of the First Amendment was also on display in her concurring opinion in the notorious 2004 Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow case that sought removal of the words “under God” from America’s Pledge of Allegiance.  Therein, O’Connor contended that federal judges could ignore recital of the concluding “So Help Me, God” sentence of their obligatory oaths of office.  Not so!

Graduation Season

Constitutionally speaking (i.e., in terms of the free speech clause) why should it matter to courts whether God’s last name is “Almighty” or “Damn”?  Graduation season is upon us, and that predictably brings out groups who threaten valedictorians and their handlers with expensive lawsuits should anyone dare to give thanks to God on these memorable occasions.  All the while, these same groups defend the “free speech” rights of those who would blaspheme our Creator in public.

Recent polling suggests that over 75% of Americans believe our courts have gone too far in restricting free exercise of religion; 76% support public displays of Ten Commandments; and 90% support keeping “one nation under God” in our Pledge.  At the same time, Pew Research Center polling data shows that the stature of America’s judiciary has plummeted.  In 1997, 78% said they had a high opinion of the Court.  In 2001, it was 61%.  More recently, it was 57%. 

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“We Just Work Here” Judicial Interpretivism

Over 1.5 million Hoosiers with “In God We Trust” license plates are no doubt gratified that they can hold onto their license tags.  A state judge has dismissed litigation brought by the ACLU alleging that it was unconstitutional to put America’s National Motto on state license plates. Marion Superior Court Judge Gary Miller’s refreshing opinion should help restore confidence in America’s judiciary.  He wrote, “Courts are not to second-guess the Indiana General Assembly when it comes to calculations of this sort.” In part, the ACLU had claimed that Indiana was giving the motto “preferential treatment” and should charge the vanity plate fee for the “In God We Trust” message since it isn’t the standard state plate. However, the legislation authorizing the plate in 2006 specifically directed the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to offer the plate for free.  Thank you Judge Miller for reminding all judges that “we just work here” when it comes to interpreting the laws and Constitution. 

It’s still the National Motto – not the National Anachronism.

“Harlan Bible” Day – March 12 (1906)

It was on this date – March 12th – in 1906 that then-senior Justice John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) donated a Bible to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) for the purpose of offering his colleagues an opportunity to sign the Good Book’s flyleaf pages.  Down through the years, the “Harlan Bible” – maintained by the Supreme Court’s Curator – has been presented to each justice shortly after taking the oath of office and all have elected to sign.  Justice Samuel Alito, the latest signatory, has acknowledged what an awesome experience it was for him to sign alongside every justice without fail for over 100 years.  For those who would say that the Bible is irrelevant to America, I would ask, can you imagine any other book or writing that would evoke such unanimous approbation?

Retired Judges of America is replicating this venerable tradition in other courts throughout America.  If you would like to help with the expenses associated with this noble undertaking, go to the donation page and become a friend of Retired Judges of America.  After all, there are no innocent bystanders; only those guilty of bystanding!

Judge-Made Law?

A California appellate court has ruled that parents without teaching credentials do not have a right to home-school their children. 

Ironically, it was exactly fifty years ago this August that the chief justices of ten states joined together to issue a report critical of our federal judicial system with the following language: “It has long been an American boast that we have a government of laws and not of men.”  That document, entitled “REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON FEDERAL STATE RELATIONSHIPS AS AFFECTED BY JUDICIAL DECISIONS” went on to complain that “… the Supreme Court too often has tended to adopt the role of policy-maker without proper judicial restraint.” 

Gaining steam, they went on, “We do not believe that either the framers of the original Constitution or the possibly somewhat less gifted draftsmen of the Fourteenth Amendment ever contemplated that the Supreme Court would, or should, have the almost unlimited policy-making powers it now exercises. It is strange, indeed, to reflect that under a constitution which provides for a system of checks and balances and of distribution of power between national and state governments one branch of one government – the Supreme Court – should attain the immense, and in many respects, dominant, power which it now wields.”

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Learn the Constitution!

A wonderful opportunity to learn why America is great

 

Americans who wish to accurately analyze current issues in the light of the Constitution – our “supreme law of the land” – now have a splendid opportunity just a click away.  The National Center for Constitutional Studies (www.nccs.net) in cooperation with Heritage Academy, a public, charter high school in Mesa, Arizona, has put a semester-long study course on The 5000 Year Leap online for the whole world to study. Any student who completes the course will be given a transcript showing one-half credit from Heritage Academy. This school is accredited by North Central Association and Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.

This course contains 27 lessons covering the 28 Principles of Liberty in great detail. Each lesson contains the elements as in the example below. The video instruction contains PowerPoint notes to help the student master the important points of instruction.

  • ResourceReading assignment – Principle 1

  • AssignmentStudy questions to answer – Principle 1

  • ResourceVideo instruction, Principle 1 (30 minutes)

  • QuizQuiz – Principle 1, Natural Law

  • AssignmentFind a current issue

The study questions, and current issue assignments are uploaded to the instructor for grading. The quizzes and two examinations are computer graded. A running grade of all assignments keeps the student aware of his progress through the course.

In order to further test this online course, Heritage is offering the opportunity for several students to enroll in the course, complete the assignments, and receive an accredited transcript for only the purchase of the textbook, The 5000 Year Leap. If a student already has the textbook, there will be no charge for the course during this test period. Heritage invites those who would like to participate on this basis to login to the website www.halearn.com to begin and, if necessary, to communicate with Earl Taylor at his email address, etaylor@mstar.net.

Kudos to Earl Taylor for this valuable contribution to the constitutional literacy of Americans!

Warm Oregonian Welcome Extended to Retired Judges of America

Retired Judges of America’s (RJA’s) Judge Darrell White (Retired) and Jason Stern were received with “northwestern” (U.S.A.) hospitality at Restore America’s third annual conference in Portland, Oregon held during February 22-23, 2008. 

Hundreds of attendees expressed keen interest (and surprise) to learn of the 100-year old “Harlan Bible” tradition pursuant to which U.S. Supreme Court justices, upon being sworn in, each sign the flyleaf of a keepsake Bible in the custody of the Court’s curator.  Judge White explained how this venerable tradition is being repeated in courts across America.

Of note:  Christian Law Association Attorney David Gibbs, III, explained sad features associated with Terri Schiavo’s court-ordered dehydration, Judge White explained how Retired Judges of America was incorporated on the very day Schiavo died – March 31, 2005.  Interest was keen over the subject of judicial activism especially in light of Oregon’s recent court-ordered nullification of petitions in favor of a statewide marriage protection amendment.

Retired Judges of America looks forward to helping Oregonians restore America–one court at a time!

A Constitutional Law Lesson

Citizens in Berkely, Michigan, are making news for standing up for what the First Amendment actually says: http://www.candgnews.com/Homepage-Articles/10-25-06/FG-NATIVITY.asp Here’s an interesting point in the article:

“Meg Boker argued to keep the nativity scene where it is, saying that her children are inundated with immoral and objectionable material every day on television and the Internet, yet she has to fight for any kind of religious or spiritual symbols to be displayed in public. ‘When we force religion indoors, we become less tolerant as a society,’ she continued. ‘We never get to learn about our brothers and sisters.’”

Her assertion – a powerful one – is that the First Amendment simply does not protect people against being offended. Thomas Jefferson affirmed that proposition in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, the icon most closely identified with the concept of “separation of church and state” when he wrote that, “…the legislative powers of government reach actions only and not opinions….” Elsewhere Jefferson wrote:

“The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Notes on Virginia Q.XVII, 1782. ME 2:221

A little critical thinking puts the issue in perspective: why is it that the same First Amendment free speech clause that protects the “rights” of persons who wish to speak ill of God shouldn’t protect the rights of persons who wish to speak well of Him in public? Regrettably, the Supreme Court’s misapplication of the “separation of church and state” principle has given us what Justice Arthur Goldberg warned could become “…a brooding and pervasive devotion to the secular and a passive, or even active, hostility to the religious.”

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Like a Boat without a rudder

«A federal judge hearing a constitutional challenge to a Kansas law requiring doctors, teachers and others to report underage sex between consenting youths said the state presented no credible evidence that underage sex is always harmful.U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten stopped short of issuing a decision from the bench, but he repeatedly interrupted Thursday’s closing arguments by Assistant Attorney General Steve Alexander to challenge his assertions.“Motives are irrelevant – I want to deal with facts,” Marten said. “Where is the clear, credible evidence that underage sex is always injurious? If you tell me because it is illegal – I reject that,” Marten said»

AP Wire | 02/09/2006 | Judge: No credible evidence underage sex always harmful:
http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/news/state/13823878.htm

Commentary:  Of course if an elected trial judge were to utter such nonsense, the line would begin forming to oppose his re-election.  However, Judge Marten – clutching his federal commission – could care less about public opinion.  In fact there are only 435 “natural enemies” of the Judge Martens of America.  And if hizhonor reads the paper Monday morning and finds that no impeachment inquiry has been initiated against him, then in the grand scheme of things, he has been officially vindicated and every member of the House of Representatives has, by his/her silence, become complicit in issuing Judge Marten a 🙂    of continued “good behaviour.” 

That is because impeachment must begin in the House of Representatives.  See Article I, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.  It’s that simple (and hard).  Remember James Madison’s words, “In republican governments, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Federalist #51

And if “we the people” don’t take the time to contact our congressman’s office to respectfully insist that that such behaviour is not “good” and deserves impeachment, we become “principals” by “aiding and abetting” the judge’s misfeasance.  For in a self-governing nation, there are no innocent bystanders; only those guilty of bystanding!

Judge Darrell White (Retired)

Let’s Stop Paying the ACLU to Sue Us!

So far Rodney Alexander and Bobby Jindal are the only members of the Louisiana congressional delegation who are cosponsors of the Public Expression of Religion Act, or PERA (H.R.2679). The bill would prohibit judges in civil suits involving the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause from awarding attorney’s fees to those offended by religious symbols or actions in the public square – such as a Ten Commandments display in a courthouse or a cross on a county seal. If passed, the ACLU would have to spring for its own attorney’s fees in suits such as the one pending in Tangipahoa Parish where it persuaded a former-state-ACLU-president-turned-federal-district-judge to order the duly elected parish school board members to stop opening their meetings with prayer.
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