Thursday, September 3, 2015

Judge rules Christians must obey the same laws as everyone else

Judge David Bunning of the Federal District Court of Eastern Kentucky has ordered Kim Davis, Clerk of Rowan County, to be held in jail for contempt of court. Even some Republicans--mostly the lawyers--are saying the judge did the right thing. 

Courts have very little power to enforce their rulings. They can issue warnings, they can assess fines, and they can jail those who disobey court orders. The judge warned this woman more than once. He probably assumed that any fine he assessed would be paid by right-wing Christian groups, not by her. So he had no choice but to put her in jail for contempt.

If this woman can get away with breaking the law because she says her god told her to do it, then everyone in the country can use that defense. The Christian right would like to substitute Mosaic law for the US Constitution and common law, no doubt. But a Federal judge can't permit them to do it.

The law operates on the basis of treating everyone equally. The motto above the US Supreme Court entrance reads, "Equal Justice Under Law". If the judge allows the defendant to use Christian law (or some form of it that was never written down or recognized in any court, as in this case), then he, or another judge, would have no choice but to permit defendants to be judged under Sharia law, or the laws of some other country of their choice. I can just see Justice Scalia's eyes rolling as he considers that possibility, strong defender of American jurisprudence that he is.

From the viewpoint of a fundamentalist Christian, this ruling probably makes no sense. But their position on whether or not they should be required to obey the same laws as everyone else is absolutely untenable.

No comments: