Why Did They Stop At Ten, Anyway?
My Sox-sympathy officially ended yesterday when I went to the Phillies game. My low tolerance may have been informed by the fact that I think it was 142 degrees Fahrenheit at the game. The Phillies lost a good game, and they even came back to tie the game in the 7th inning from 7 runs down. The Red Sox fans were insufferable and embarrassingly so. They were worse than Yankee fans. One of my close friends made a comment about how embarrassing it was to be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Phillies’ World Series victory when they were playing the current world champs. No, embarrassing is not winning a world series for 86 years and then pretending that statistic doesn’t exist as soon as your team finally wins. They would pout and throw fits when things went wrong and act irrationally over the top whenever the Sox would score (which in their defense, was often). My point is this: it was fun to root for the Sox when they were underdogs. Their fans are too cocky now, and it’s easy to root against people who forget about their humble situation in the past. I will be happy to see them not win the World Series this year.
And please don’t think this is written out of bitterness for the Sox sweep of the Phils this weekend. I’m just not that passionate.
The rest of the weekend was fun. I saw Pink Humpy on Saturday night. My ex-roommate plays bass for the hump, and they were quite good. I also love hanging out with his family. I am like the gay, waspy, alcoholic son and brother they never had and never really wished for.
This is the most wonderful time of the year for Supreme Court nerds, like myself. From the top of the mountain today, an opinion was issued that upheld the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments on government land, but drew the line on displays inside courthouses, saying they violated the doctrine of separation of church and state. The court was sharply divided, natch, and Madame Justice O’Connor provided the swing vote.* Personally, I don’t think that the 10 Commandments should be posted anywhere on government land. I think it’s tantamount to endorsement of Christianity. I don’t think it’s enough to merely keep the Commandments away from courthouses, but it’s a very tricky issue.
For any Decalogue to survive a constitutional challenge, a court must find it has a 'secular purpose' and that a 'reasonable observer' would not view its 'primary effect' as 'endorsing religion.’ Among the many inquiries the uncertain Supreme Court precedents appear to invite are whether the governmental purpose behind the erection of displays of the Ten Commandments is religious or secular; whether the effect of such displays is to advance or endorse a religious message; whether the erection of such displays fosters excessive entanglement between church and state; and whether the displays are placed in locations or settings that have some coercive effect, forcing objecting citizens to view religious content against their will. Hooray Constitutional Law!!! I had to look all that shit up as a refresher. In other words, it’s pretty much completely subjective, and the ruling today did little to clarify the murky waters.
I think it’s impossible to enter a courtroom as a non-Christian and find that the Commandments are not religious. When you think about it, (pretty much secular) Commandments 6-8 have been codified by the government and numbers 5 and 10 are nice life lessons, and the remainder are pretty much meaningless unless you believe in God (which I do, I am pretty sure), and even then I think they have little to do with the current Judicial system besides acknowledging the history of the law and Judeo-Christian ideals. I am just saying the Decalogue as a whole should not be represented as something the government sanctions wholeheartedly (or even half-heartedly). It’s dangerous and irresponsible for the government to showcase the commandments, and it narrows the already shrinking divide between church and state in this disconcerting political zeitgeist.** It just makes me want to go out and perform abortions on the street!
Wow, I am a bitch today.
Better go attend to my blood sugar now. I promise I will be more fun next time.
*Actually, I misread. Justice Breyer provided the swing vote, signing on to both Majority opinions. This means that he approved the large stone Ten Commandments on the land of the Texas State Capitol, but he condemned the hanging of a small copy of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse. Thus, it is officially enshrined in Constitutional jurisprudence that "size doesn't matter." For the record, I would have voted with O'Connor and not Breyer, and that rarely happens.
** Also edited to add that in all my infinite wisdom of the law, I don't think these cases are very significant in the grand scheme of things. The Commandments are really just a symbol of "too much" for Liberals and a "good start" for Conservatives. It's probably no mistake that the Court waffled on their stance, and there will never be a clear Establishment Clause test with elements understandable to lay people with this current Court's composition.