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Scotus: Ten Commandments Ruling

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I think that the 10 Commandments ruling is wrong. It's good that they held that they cannot be placed in courthouses, but I don't see why the idea of having them in a state capitol should be any more permissible.

From what I know of the case, I agree with the ruling about the cable lines.

I don't know anything about the Grokster case, so maybe someone else can elaborate.

Your thoughts?

(I split the David's response about Grokster into a separate topic - softwareNerd.)

Edited by softwareNerd
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On the 10 Commandments I definitely have to agree with you. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me," is an obvious endorsement of the Christian/Jewish religions, and I have no idea why something like that displayed in any government building isn't an endorsement of a specific religion. When people say that their is no reason that the commandments should be taken down have no problem quoting any of the other 9 commandments, but I've never even heard anyone try to justify how the above commandment belongs in a courthouse or any other government building.

(Edited to remove quote of entire previous post. - SoftwareNerd)

Edited by softwareNerd
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Let's go through them one by one:

1.) Thou shalt have no other gods before me--you already said it

2.) Thou shalt make no graven image--same principle as why #1 shouldn't be there

3.) Thou shalt not take the word of God in vain--same principle

4.) Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy--while the first three can be argued as applying to "God," in general, this one is a specific reference to a Judeo-Christian tradition

5.) Honor thy father and thy mother--promotes the idea that you should honor someone because they are your ancestors and it promotes a specific morality

6.) Thou shalt not kill--fair enough

7.) Thou shalt not commit adultery--while it's a good rule to live by, it hardly belongs in a government building, since it promotes a specific religious morality and should not be legislated

8.) Thou shalt not steal--fair enough

9.) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor--fair enough

10.) Thou shalt not covet--so, we're endorsing thought crime here

Okay, I count 3 good ones. Where are these other 9 of which you speak?

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The Kentucky case certainly came out right, and Scalia proved himself a real wanker there. I haven't slogged through that whole decision (can't these guy learn to be more concise!?!), but it seems that in Kentucky this was clearly establishment of religion by the state. The purpose in the Texas case is clearly different, and the facts indicate that accepting that monument in Texas was not a clear sign of direct state establishment of religion. OTOH putting up this monument honoring The Eagles seems a bit odd, given who else is being honored there (Texas rangers, firemen, various vets, Boy Scouts): are The Eagles really that essential to the character of Texas? The test would be whether they would also accept a monument to Madelyn Murray O'hair (does anybody know, authoritatively, how that's spelled?). So while they are less obvious in establishing Christianity as the state-approved religion, by allowing a private organization to promote a religion on government property, so the effect is unimportantly different from directly promoting religion (which they don't allow). Without a clear anti-religious balance of equal stature, the Texas statue can't be considered to be a neutral statement of history, and thus they screwed up on that one (Scalia was a wanker again). O'Connor got it right both times.

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Don't give moral ammunition to mystics by judging 3 Commandments "fair enough", though.

While the prohibitions against murder and theft are justifiable, and to a lesser extent lying, they must be justified by a different moral standard. It is the acceptance of that Christian standard that is offensive, and the Ten Commandments being posted anywhere is simply a sign of accepting that morality, of accepting that arbitrary standard of law.

Morality cannot be commanded by one person onto another. Morality is an individual decision and, in an objective reality, contextually and rationally based.

The principle of rights - and the consequential defense of private property - are what prohibit and criminalize fraud, murder, and theft, not the whims of ghosts. Lying is only morally punishable by the State when it is manifest as fraud (a method of force) or perjury.

Certainly the practical applications of enforcing the other seven Commandments is impossible if people are to be prosecuted for their violations alone. However, insertion of this "moral" code into a judicial system carries many other heavy practical consequences:

- Would coveting alone be an acceptable basis for having a retail employee arrested for theft?

- Would adultery be an acceptable consideration for a jury's deliberation over the fate of a murder suspect, equal to - or even supplanting - forensic and testimonial evidence?

- What of the victims of child abuse - will honor thy mother and father become an effective argument of the defendants?

- Would a sentence for, let's say, selling alcohol to a minor be doubled because the act occured on the Sabbath? Will the Courts clear this one up for us ... because at last check some people think the Sabbath is Friday, others Saturday, others Sunday; who decides?

- While an under-the-breath curse against god might be protected as "free speech", could that heresy, worsen a charge, or be used against a collar after they've been read their rights?

- How would this case be handled: a Catholic is fired from a job because she displays graven images, and they offend her Protestant boss's sensibilities? Who's religious display is protected?

- Willl American Muslims, Hindus, and us atheists be awarded fairness, even though we openly profess to hold no/other gods before God? Will devout Cristians get a break?

- Will putting the Jesus fish on my car get me a better break in a traffic stop than just that "I donated $40 to the Hwy Patrol" sticker does?

Is any of this already happening?

There are obviously many other examples, and I know I've gone on enough. The point is that, when America begins to truly and deeply accept the concept of rights, and their basis in reason and morality - not superstition and whim - will these religious monuments come down for good. Until then, the conservative-liberal tug-of-war will continue, and the prevailing arbitrary political climate will determine our treatment by the Law.

I don't expect this decision to be anything but amended though, and future Courts allowing more religious displays.

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I'm puzzled by this.

Does this ultimately mean that local governments have no constitutional duty to protect our rights? :confused:

More or less. As they say, enforcement of restraining orders is not mandatory by law (at least in Colorado). Recall that enforcement of laws is generally optional and depends on the whims of the officer or supervisor -- which is a good thing, for drug laws (when the option to not enforce is selected). You wouldn't want them enforcing bad laws like drug laws, anti-prostitution laws, loitering laws etc. Another way of looking at it is that you can't claim a violation of Due Process if the police don't enforce a restraining order, so you have to find a different clever way to force the government to fulfill its function. ('the Due Process Clause does not require the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors.') A third way to look at it is that protection of rights doesn't apply to threats that seem to be "domestic". And a fourth way to look at it is, a statutory requirement to enforce such an order does not create a private entitlement, because (p. 16 of the slip opinion) "The serving of public rather than private ends is the normal course of the criminal law" -- thus, the public has been wronged. Scalia wanks in public again: this time, O'Connor joins the wankers. I didn't read this one earlier: this utterly negates any good feelings I had about them based on Grokster.
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I'm puzzled by this.

Does this ultimately mean that local governments have no constitutional duty to protect our rights?

I was shocked, SHOCKED, to hear this today. Shocked that the court even bothered to review the case since them made a very similar conclusion back in 1981.

Go here and you can read the case details, http://www.healylaw.com/cases/warren2.htm, but to make a long story short two women called the police while a third roomate was being raped in the same apartment. The police didnt go to the women's home and eventually the rapists found the other two women, and tortured all three for over fourteen hours. The Supreme Court decided that police are under no constituonal law to protect any specific person from anything (despite the fact that protection from violence is the ONLY proper role of government). Side note, the victims also did not have the constituonal right to defend themselves with firearms. I believe this was about the time D.C. became the murder capital of the nation.

In short, we are on are own when it comes to defence of life, and we have been for some time now.

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Okay, I count 3 good ones.  Where are these other 9 of which you speak?

I didn't mean to imply that all of the other 9 were good, and I did forget about the "taking the word of god in vain" which would also promote the Judeo Christian god and the graven image one which specifically excludes certain religions, I just meant that the others didn't appear to blatently promote or deny a specific religion, at least not in the way that those do.

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