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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

UUA / SB1070

I am deeply disturbed by the recent flurry of attacks on women’s rights. I am especially troubled by how religious fundamentalism is used to justify taking away rights from women.

The fact is that our major religious traditions have within them both liberating visions and histories that give legitimacy to unspeakable oppression. Think for a moment about the last few centuries. Religion has been used to justify slavery, to keep the vote from women, to condemn gays and lesbians, and to justify horrible violence.

I am so glad that Unitarian Universalism has long taken seriously the idea that every human being has inherent worth and dignity and that a spirit of justice, equity and compassion should guide human relationships.
A tweet sent me to the above from the UUA, more evidence  that there are religions, faiths, values and the like that need not make people treat such terms like dirty words or as somehow inherently Republican or something. The UUA is also on record as against SB1070 and protesting it as violation of its and our country's basic values.

I'm all for flexibility when appropriate, but immigration policy is clearly a federal matter, a matter of commerce between nations and so forth, so find this approach questionable.  As suggested yesterday, this is not merely a matter of state v. federal power. When the nation as a whole, not a specific border state, sets policies, various compromises are made, various things are taken into account that might not occur in a more limited venue.  This is why commerce among states, domestic and foreign, was entrusted in the federal government.  Locals still have discretion, as the Whiting opinion and others show.  There are limits, especially when the state is clearly trying to push federal policy and officers.

[Update: The reports are not positive, but the justices were most doubtful that merely asking for immigration status and providing the feds with the information by itself (as the SG noted, it isn't by itself; it is part of a whole) is pre-empted.  There might be the four votes needed for the others to at least uphold 4-4.  The justices themselves started with the weakest point, Roberts upfront trying to not make this about racial/ethnic profiling. 

It is a bit unfair to blame Verilli for doing badly here. I think he did provide reasons even for the first provision being a problem (see transcript at USSC website) and likely effects, including racial/ethnic profiling, factors in on the ground.  But, a narrow rejection of a facial challenge of this one provision seems fairly likely, if not a big loss by itself.]

Some like to talk about the 10th Amendment, but there are two sides of that coin.  If the states have their area, the feds have theirs, the states not having the authority to invade that either.  We shall see (Scotusblog will later talk about the orals and the audio will be available Friday afternoon) how things go.


 * Since it came up, let me add a local tidbit that I talked about in the past. A member of the NY Assembly has recently tried to amend state law to clarify the right of ULC Church (not related to UU) ministers to officiate weddings. Upon contact with her office, I was informed that the AG's office told her that "[t]heir reading of the law and case law since is that universal life ministers and any minister who is ordained on-line cannot officiate."

Suffice to say, the matter is debatable, the highest state court never ruling on the question and the last of three rulings occurring over twenty years ago. New York City hands out marriage officiant certificates to such ministers. As I noted in the past, I find this stupid and misguided. It's a real issue as shown by the number of NYT wedding announcements that include reference to such ministers, particularly favored by same sex couples.  If this is what a couple wants to give meaning to their wedding, it is unclear to me the point of not letting them.

If the state allows online courses to be used for education credits for teachers, why should on-line ordination matter?  Technically, an actual person processes the requests and sends you paperwork. What if a church in Africa or some other distant place sometimes ordained people in such a fashion?  Would Skype work?