"If the judges interpret the laws themselves, and suffer none else to interpret, they may easily make, of the laws, [a shredded] shipman's hose!" - King James I of England, around 1616.

“No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expression or publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities of observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. Hundreds of those who are called on to vote never enter a court-house, or if they do, it is only at intervals as jurors, witnesses or parties. To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood by the very judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too monstrous to be entertained for a moment under our present system,” Justice Sharwood in Ex Parte Steinman and Hensel, 95 Pa 220, 238-39 (1880).

“This case illustrates to me the serious consequences to the Bar itself of not affording the full protections of the First Amendment to its applicants for admission. For this record shows that [the rejected attorney candidate] has many of the qualities that are needed in the American Bar. It shows not only that [the rejected attorney candidate] has followed a high moral, ethical and patriotic course in all of the activities of his life, but also that he combines these more common virtues with the uncommon virtue of courage to stand by his principles at any cost.

It is such men as these who have most greatly honored the profession of the law. The legal profession will lose much of its nobility and its glory if it is not constantly replenished with lawyers like these. To force the Bar to become a group of thoroughly orthodox, time-serving, government-fearing individuals is to humiliate and degrade it.” In Re Anastaplo, 18 Ill. 2d 182, 163 N.E.2d 429 (1959), cert. granted, 362 U.S. 968 (1960), affirmed over strong dissent, 366 U.S. 82 (1961), Justice Black, Chief Justice Douglas and Justice Brennan, dissenting.

" I do not believe that the practice of law is a "privilege" which empowers Government to deny lawyers their constitutional rights. The mere fact that a lawyer has important responsibilities in society does not require or even permit the State to deprive him of those protections of freedom set out in the Bill of Rights for the precise purpose of insuring the independence of the individual against the Government and those acting for the Government”. Lathrop v Donohue, 367 US 820 (1961), Justice Black, dissenting.

"The legal profession must take great care not to emulate the many occupational groups that have managed to convert licensure from a sharp weapon of public defense into blunt instrument of self-enrichment". Walter Gellhorn, "The Abuse of Occupational Licensing", University of Chicago Law Review, Volume 44 Issue 1, September of 1976.

“Because the law requires that judges no matter how corrupt, who do not act in the clear absence of jurisdiction while performing a judicial act, are immune from suit, former Judge Ciavarella will escape liability for the vast majority of his conduct in this action. This is, to be sure, against the popular will, but it is the very oath which he is alleged to have so indecently, cavalierly, baselessly and willfully violated for personal gain that requires this Court to find him immune from suit”, District Judge A. Richard Caputo in H.T., et al, v. Ciavarella, Jr, et al, Case No. 3:09-cv-00286-ARC in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Document 336, page 18, November 20, 2009. This is about judges who were sentencing kids to juvenile detention for kickbacks.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

When a judge is given by law a right to officiate at weddings, does he have an obligation to officiate at secular weddings?

First, we had a County Clerk in the State of Kentucky who refused to officiate a same sex marriage.

The County Clerk, Kim Davis, was held in contempt of federal court, and the contempt was recently upheld on appeal.

Now yet another public official from the State of Kentucky, Judge Hollis Alexander, who refused to officiate a wedding, now of a straight couple - because the couple wanted a secular, not religious, wedding.

While the press dubbed the couple who judge Hollis Alexander refused to marry as "atheists", a couple who simply does not want a religious wedding, is not necessarily an "atheist" couple.

And, a judge who refuses to marry a couple who refuses to include "God" into their vows, very apparently means a specific "God".

Apparently, the judge will similarly refuse to marry people whose faith is non-Christian.

Yet, when judges are given by law a right to officiate at weddings, that right comes with an obligation not to discriminate.  A judge is officiating as a public official, with an implication that, since a judge is chosen to officiate and not a religious minister, the ceremony is meant to be secular.

Therefore, in my opinion, a judge who is called upon, through a filing in a public courthouse, to officiate at a wedding, has no right to refuse to do so because the wedding is meant to be secular.

I agree with the couple's attorney that Judge Alexander has violated Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In his campaign to become a judge (judge Alexander was appointed by Kentucky governor in 2013), Judge Alexander did not conceal that his views are "Christian".

Yet, in that same campaign, Judge Alexander claimed he wants to provide a "continued, proven, and professional leadership", and has a "heartfelt desire to serve Trigg County".

That service to Trigg County is a service to all residents of the County, in all capacities that the law bestowed on the judge - and that includes officiating at weddings, and there is no point for a judge to officiate at a wedding unless the wedding is secular.

If a wedding is religious, people choose religious ministers to officiate.

I wonder if Judge Alexander will now be taken off the bench for his refusal to serve Trigg County residents the way he is supposed to and for imposing not just any religion, but his own religion as a pre-condition to marry by a judge in Trigg County.

And, in refusing to serve the couple by officiating at a secular wedding, the judge seemed to have overlooked that marriage in this country, and in the state of Kentucky, is not legal unless approved by the state by issuing a state license - which means that the pre-requisite for a marriage in the State of Kentucky is a secular, state license.

This is just one other example of judges refusing to be faithful to their constitutional oath of office - which entitled them to wield judicial power and enjoy the benefits, including the financial benefits, of their position - when it clashes with their personal "beliefs".

Of course, Judge Alexander is not the first of U.S. politicians who insisted that Americans "need God" and jamming God down their throats in government affairs - Constitution or no Constitution.

Yet, since our public officials can only serve while they are faithful to their constitutional oath of office, their public opinions about their official duties contradicting their oath, and especially acting on such opinions, should result in immediate impeachment and removal from office, and Judge Alexander is not an exception.

And, Judge Alexander was allowed by law to express his religious views, under the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, on one condition - to resign first, and, if not resigning, not to infuse his religious beliefs into his official duties as a SECULAR government official.

I will follow this story and report on it.

Stay tuned.

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