Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Unnatural law and the religious right

Hugh Hewitt offers the following insight into the "recent" mobilization of the "religious right":

The speed with which issues that excite the passions of people of faith have arrived at the center of American politics is not surprising given the forced march that the courts have put those issues on. It was not the "religious right" that pushed gay marriage to the center of the public debate; it was courts in Hawaii, Vermont, and Massachusetts. It wasn’t the "religious right" that ordered Terri Schiavo’s feeding tube removed; it was a Florida Supreme Court that struck down a law passed by the Florida legislature and signed by Governor Jeb Bush which would have allowed Terri Schiavo to live. And it isn’t the "religious right" that forced the United States Supreme Court to repeatedly issue rulings on areas of law that would have been better left to legislatures.

I suggested, not altogether facetiously, that returning the abortion debate to the political arena, where it does indeed belong (according to an understanding of the our constitutional order genuinely faithful to the document that is supposed to be at its heart), could go a long way toward "taming" the sometimes irregular passions of conservative religionists. I should find it remarkable (but unfortunately do not) that our friends on the Left, who always seem interested in giving voice to the marginalized as a way of giving them a moderating stake in the system, and who profess to understand the frustration of those who are denied a voice, are not on the forefront of those calling for a return to a genuinely deliberative democracy to pour oil on our troubled waters.

I recognize that some will say that the voice of the "religious right" is too loud, since religious conservatives are said to dominate the national Republican Party (though Jonathan Chait is not sure he agrees). Accepting for the sake of this argument their claim, what we have is a conflict between two (as yet unarmed) camps: religious conservatives "controlling" Congress and the Presidency and secular liberals "controlling" the federal judiciary. The conventional liberal wisdom would call for both sides to enter into conversations in order to facilitate moderation and compromise. My impression, however, is that the secular judicial liberals regard their judicial bastion as impregnable, so long as their guerilla forces in the Senate and the press can continue effectively to harrass their opponents. I don’t think that this is a winning strategy, since all that it is sure to accomplish is weakening the moral and legal authority of the judiciary.

All I really want is for liberals to behave the way they almost always do when faced with external opponents: try to understand the force of their ire and find a way of integrating them into a peaceful system of cooperation. If liberals are genuinely willing to engage with "reasonable" religionists (and if what they mean by a "reasonable religionist" is someone other than C. Welton Gaddy), then displaying a genuine willingness to debate these issues in the political arena is the only plausible way of accomplishing this goal.

Discussions - 7 Comments

The so called division in the Republican Party might well be considered a split by people who do not understand marriage. But the "split" might really be two segments that constitute a marriage, or family; each segment attuned to its particular area of concern for the benefit of the unit. Internal discussion about spending the family political capital is what married people do. But then why would we expect the left (or Jonathan Chait) to understand marriage?

Doesn’t it seem ironic that while the "right" supports banning gay marriage to protect the sanctity of marriage, they try to take away the rights given to Michael Schiavo through marriage.

If the "right" had protected the sanctity of marriage, Michael, with his other wife and children would not have had any say about Terri. Let men marry men, let men marry as many women as they want, let dogs marry cats and squirrels wish keep wishing they could marry anyone. We are working toward a matrilineal society. Let’er rip.

Michael Schiavo forgot this...........

Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family—a domestic church.
ATTRIBUTION: John Paul II [Karol Wojtyla] (b. 1920), Polish ecclesiastic, pope. quoted in Observer (London, Jan. 31, 1982).

Mr. Waller..the Right does not see marriage as a bulwark against the lawful (and moral) treatment of the members that constitute it. The Right was against killing Terri Schiavo for the same reason it would be against drowning unwanted children...people have God-given rights that are quite separate from the marriage contract. In my eyes, Michael Schiavo forfeited his marital rights we he committed adultry, and even if he hadn’t, Terri was a living, breathing person and the condition of her brain was not properly determined.

Easy, Dain...

If you say that, then there are millions of men and women in this country--in positions of power, none-the-less, that would have to "forfeit" their marital rights for adultery. Keep in mind, I do not think adultery is excusable.

Well, Joel, adultery is grounds for divorce (the revocation of marital rights and obligations).

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