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Title: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Allhallowsday on October 19, 2010, 03:08:49 PM
O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
WILMINGTON, Del. Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware on Tuesday questioned whether the Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, appearing to disagree or not know that the First Amendment bars the government from establishing religion.

The exchange came in a debate before an audience of legal scholars and law students at Widener University Law School, as O'Donnell criticized Democratic nominee Chris Coons' position that teaching creationism in public school would violate the First Amendment by promoting religious doctrine.

Coons said private and parochial schools are free to teach creationism but that "religious doctrine doesn't belong in our public schools."

"Local schools do not have the right to teach what they feel?" O'Donnell said. "Talk about imposing your beliefs on the local schools."

When O'Donnell cited "indispensable principles" of the Founding Fathers in her criticism of an overreaching federal government, Coons interrupted her to say, "One of those indispensable principles is the separation of church and state."

"Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" O'Donnell asked, a statement that drew laughter from the audience. When Coons returned to the topic a few minutes later, he said her comment "reveals her fundamental misunderstanding of what our Constitution is."

"The First Amendment establishes the separation, the fact that the federal government shall not establish religion," Coons said.

"The First Amendment does?" O'Donnell interrupted. "You're telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?"

When Coons summarized the amendment as saying government shall make no law establishing religion, O'Donnell interrupted again: "That's in the First Amendment?"

Her comments, in a debate aired on radio station WDEL, generated a buzz in the audience.

"You actually audibly heard the crowd gasp," Widener University political scientist Wesley Leckrone said after the debate, adding that it raised questions about O'Donnell's grasp of the Constitution...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101019/ap_on_el_se/us_delaware_senate (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101019/ap_on_el_se/us_delaware_senate) 

 :buggedout: :lookingup:


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: akiratubo on October 19, 2010, 04:26:33 PM
This woman needs to go away.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 19, 2010, 11:43:10 PM
I think the point she was trying (rather poorly, I might add) to make is that the phrase "separation of church and state" does NOT occur in the First Amendment, and was not used to describe it at the time - it was Thomas Jefferson who used the phrase "a wall of separation" in a letter to a group of pastors from Danbury, CT about 20 years AFTER the Constitutional Convention and the passage of the Bill of Rights.

The fact is that, for nearly 200 years, Bible reading and prayer were an integral part of American school life - right up until 1962's Engel vs. Vitale case.  Incidentally, in their ruling on that case, the justices were unable to cite a single legal precedent for their decision.

  I do not think ANY of our founders - not even Jefferson, who was a pure Deist rather than a Christian - ever intended for the First Amendment to be twisted and stretched to the point that it has today, where we can't even pray before a football game, and where a valedictorian was actually threatened with JAIL TIME if he mentioned the name of Jesus Christ in a commencement prayer.

  I do not think that public school should be Sunday School.  But when you can't even wish your students a "Merry Christmas" without facing a possible lawsuit, something is deeply, deeply wrong.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Mr_Vindictive on October 20, 2010, 07:02:27 AM
I'm inclined to agree with Indianasmith here for the most part.  I'm not religious by any means, but I'm also not going to stop anyone else from being so.  I feel that we are becoming too PC of a country. 

If someone wants to pray before a football game, let them.  If someone wants to thank Jesus/God/Whomever during a speech, then that's fine with me too.  I'm comfortable in my own beliefs.  I don't feel threatened by someone else expressing their own beliefs. 

This country was built on religion.  Our moral code, instilled in us from day one, comes from religion.  There is a lot of good in religion.  It gives people something to believe in, something to hang on to. 

We live in a society where more often than not, you're told that you can't speak your mind for fear of hurting someone else's feelings.  America really needs to grow some thicker skin.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 20, 2010, 10:26:42 PM
I was talking to a couple of my students today who watched the  entire debate, and they put a bit different spin on it.  Granted, this is second hand, but they both concurred on the details, and they are pretty sharp political junkies -

Apparently, Christine O'Donnell asked Coons to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment (something I require all my Senior Government students to memorize), and the only thing he could come up with was "Separation of Church and State" - which phrase, as I noted above, does not even occur in the First Amendment.  She asked him to name the others (Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, and the press) and he could not.  That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.

  Assuming that their recollection of the debate is accurate, it makes you really question the nature of  the reporting on this race.  Is it any wonder, then, that conservatives don't trust the media? Which one of the two really understands the Constitution less?

If someone has a link to the actual debate, it would help clear this discussion up a bit anyway.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Doctor X. on October 20, 2010, 11:46:04 PM
I absolutely believe that separation of church and state is absolutely essential to maintaining a free society.

If you want to live in a country without separation of chruch and state, there's Iran, Saudi Arabia, pakistan, afghanistan and a few others.

I also believe in separation or Christine O'Donnell and state.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: flackbait on October 21, 2010, 12:05:13 AM
Indiana I mean no disrespect but there is a vague comment on the separation of church and state in the first amendment. I pulled this directly from the bill of rights page: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". My guess is what the founding fathers had in mind by saying that was that the government could not establish a theocracy or make mandates on religious practices. But modern times have changed that a little bit. For example in public schools if you held daily prayer over the intercom, that will be seen by some people as mandating religion. All of that said I will agree with you that it definitely is taken to an extreme. I will tell people merry Christmas D*mmit, political correctness be Danged!


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 21, 2010, 06:17:56 AM
Oh, don't get me wrong, FB; the PRINCIPLE is definitely there; just the phrase is missing. Freedom of religion is the first thing mentioned, THEN the establishment clause BTW, Doc X, don't forget that England also has an established church, and they aren't lopping people's heads off in the name of Jesus and haven't for some time.   All the countries that you named have the unfortunate combination of having a state religion - and that religion being Islam! :buggedout:

I'd still take Christine O'Donell over a self-admitted Marxist.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Doggett on October 21, 2010, 09:51:00 AM
don't forget that England also has an established church, and they aren't lopping people's heads off in the name of Jesus and haven't for some time....   


Nah, we still do if it's a Friday night and there's nuthin' good on the telly.  :teddyr:


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Allhallowsday on October 21, 2010, 11:31:35 AM
I was talking to a couple of my students today who watched the  entire debate, and they put a bit different spin on it.  Granted, this is second hand, but they both concurred on the details, and they are pretty sharp political junkies -

Apparently, Christine O'Donnell asked Coons to name the five freedoms protected by the First Amendment (something I require all my Senior Government students to memorize), and the only thing he could come up with was "Separation of Church and State" - which phrase, as I noted above, does not even occur in the First Amendment.  She asked him to name the others (Freedom of speech, assembly, petition, and the press) and he could not.  That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.
Indy, there is no such spin anywhere I can find... I'm sure some outlet would have pointed out COONS' failure as you paraphrased by your students (y'think they're eager to please you?) if that exchange had occurred.  It seems O'DONNELL a "constitutional expert" can't remember too many details.  Why defend a clearly ignorant candidate just because you agree with her?    :question:

Assuming that their recollection of the debate is accurate, it makes you really question the nature of  the reporting on this race.  Is it any wonder, then, that conservatives don't trust the media? Which one of the two really understands the Constitution less?
If someone has a link to the actual debate, it would help clear this discussion up a bit anyway.
There is a bit of it here in a report from CNN:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogjIkUJk4Zw 


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Umaril The Unfeathered on October 21, 2010, 12:11:11 PM
Indiana I mean no disrespect but there is a vague comment on the separation of church and state in the first amendment. I pulled this directly from the bill of rights page: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". My guess is what the founding fathers had in mind by saying that was that the government could not establish a theocracy or make mandates on religious practices. But modern times have changed that a little bit. For example in public schools if you held daily prayer over the intercom, that will be seen by some people as mandating religion. All of that said I will agree with you that it definitely is taken to an extreme. I will tell people merry Christmas D*mmit, political correctness be Danged!

That's a good point. You cannot establish any religion as 'the one' nor can you stop individuals from exercising their religion freely, or speaking in it's name. 

I have YET to have anyone ever attack me or criticize me for saying "Merry Christmas" to them.  Left or Right, I have never been attacked for it by anyone of any political sphere.

I think if you go to the common man, you'll find that a lot more people are OK with it because to them it's no biggie (and shouldn't be). It's always the loud minority that forces their way in and starts trouble where there really isn't any to begin with, and I think many see this.



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Jim H on October 21, 2010, 12:31:06 PM
Quote
That was the context in which she asked "Separation of church and state?" several times, a quote badly twisted in the quoted article.

Well, per the video, first she says the "phrase" separation of church and state, then later on she simply states it without the phrase clarifier.  THEN, Coons quotes the establishment clause, and O'Donnell responds by saying, "That's in the 1st Amendment?".  It looks to me like she was trying to make a really, really dumb talking point and completely failed at it.  Anybody who makes a big deal out of that phrase not being in the 1st amendment is generally just displaying their ignorance - it's a broadly worded clause, and it has been interpreted for 50 years as prohibiting government entities from promoting any religion over any other.  It'd be kind of like saying the 2nd Amendment doesn't allow us to own guns, because it refers to arms.

The real reason this is controversial of course is not because of a bad constitutional interpretation, it's because many American Christians WANT the government to promote Christianity over all other religions in government institutions.  Sorry, that's not acceptable.  

Quote
The fact is that, for nearly 200 years, Bible reading and prayer were an integral part of American school life - right up until 1962's Engel vs. Vitale case.

"This is the way we've always done it" is a pretty poor justification.

Quote
But when you can't even wish your students a "Merry Christmas" without facing a possible lawsuit, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

Since you're a teacher, perhaps you know better, but I believe this was a fabrication of ACLU haters.  

Quote
where a valedictorian was actually threatened with JAIL TIME if he mentioned the name of Jesus Christ in a commencement prayer.

Again, I believe this is also a fabrication.  What exactly would the student be charged with?  The story makes no sense.  The actual case I'm aware of was a valedictorian who was cut off in mid-speech when he began to proselytize Jesus.  Which, on another note, I'd consider something of a gray area - it was a student doing it of his own accord, but it's a school provided venue with a captive audience and allowing proselytizing in this way lends itself to abuse.

Quote
 I do not think that public school should be Sunday School.

And that's one reason amongst many why you're a lot better than people like O'Donnell.  


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: 3mnkids on October 21, 2010, 12:35:47 PM
Here you can watch the entire debate.  http://www.wdel.com/video.php?v=wdelsenatedenate.flv 

No one should be making excuses for this woman. She has no place in politics.

As far as Coons being a marxist. http://politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/oct/14/christine-odonnell/christine-odonnell-claims-chris-coons-has-marxist-/

Quote
The origin of the Marxism charge is an opinion piece Coons wrote for the Amherst College student newspaper during his senior year. The headline: "Chris Coons: The Making Of A Bearded Marxist."

This is undoubtedly the kind of thing that makes an opposition researcher scream "Cha-ching!"

But you don't have to read too far into the article to get that the "Bearded Marxist" line is hyperbole.

The article, which ran in the Amherst Student on May 23, 1985, describes Coons' transformation from "somewhat of a Republican fanatic" -- who helped found the Amherst College Republicans in 1983 -- to an ardent Democrat, largely as a result of his experiences spending a semester in Kenya during his junior year.

"I spent the spring of my junior year in Africa on the St. Lawrence Kenya Study Program," Coons wrote. "Going to Kenya was one of the few real decisions I have made; my friends, family, and professors all advised against it, but I went anyway. My friends now joke that something about Kenya, maybe the strange diet, or the tropical sun, changed my personality; Africa to them seems a catalytic converter that takes in clean-shaven, clear-thinking Americans and sends back bearded Marxists."


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 21, 2010, 12:43:56 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OcnLsR_rC8&feature=related

Here's a few more clips about her debate performance (with commentary from a youtube pundit, which you can take it for what it's worth).  She makes another 1st Amendment gaffe when she says that when it comes to determining what is protected free speech "the Supreme Court has always ruled that the local community has the right to decide."  

And Indy's students were correct that Coons did not name the 5 freedoms when asked.  Link (http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/scott-whitlock/2010/10/21/christine-odonnell-shames-abc-airing-democrats-first-amendment-gaffe).  It's not clear that he couldn't name them, but he didn't take the opportunity to demonstrate his knowledge, which could be viewed as dodging the question because he would have gotten it wrong.  And she has a legitimate point that the media didn't report that fact that makes Coons look bad.

(I would have gotten the "five freedoms" question wrong too, as I was never taught the Amendment that way.  Looking at the text I see how they derive "five freedoms."  I would have forgotten the freedom "to petition the government for redress of grievances."  I'm not proud of that fact.)  


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 21, 2010, 01:14:48 PM
she's kind of right. It's saying that they governemnt can't form a state religion but it's not saying that religious assertations can't conceivably form the basis of law in a general way. You could argue this for quite a while but the way they are spinning this thast she just like doesn't know the consitution is wrong.

It's a difficult sort of issue. on the one hand we are "free" on the other hand we are part of what is known as western civilization which does tend to involve christian notions of truth, even if we were all to become atheists, we are stilll kind of "christian" in our way of doing things just by tradition and our legal system and so forth.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 21, 2010, 01:34:55 PM
she's kind of right. It's saying that they governemnt can't form a state religion but it's not saying that religious assertations can't conceivably form the basis of law in a general way. You could argue this for quite a while but the way they are spinning this thast she just like doesn't know the consitution is wrong.


Debating how "separation of church and state" is implemented in particular instances is a subject of reasonable debate.  Saying that the principle of separation of church in state is nowhere in the Constitution (which seems to be what she was driving at) is just flat wrong.  She may know the Constitution, but she hasn't demonstrated it.  On another occasion she didn't know what the 14th Amendment was; she could have just blanked for a moment, but it's not encouraging.   


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 21, 2010, 03:33:06 PM

"This is the way we've always done it" is a pretty poor justification.


I agree with that (though 'tradition' is sometimes worth defending), but isn't that what you are doing in this statement:

Quote from: Jim H

 it has been interpreted for 50 years as prohibiting government entities from promoting any religion over any other. 


Just because a court 50 years ago decided something, and based on THAT decision society has accepted the idea as "the way things should be" does NOT mean it is either right, Constitutional OR within the spirit the Founders tried to capture.

I'm not arguing the point one way or another...I'm purposefully not putting a dog in this particular fight...but your logic here is a bit circular.

Further, it could also be argued that the court 50 years ago (that would be the 1960's) was not the most faithful to the Founders on a TON of decisions. 

My point is not whether the Establishment clause really means "separation" or not but rather that no matter what side of this particular debate you are on, I think you have to admit that we are a LONG way from the US Constitution, both in content and in the spirit the Founders intended.

And what saddens me most of all is that group that acknowledges this and embraces it...those that seem to view the US Constitution as passe or outdated.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Jim H on October 21, 2010, 05:06:33 PM
Quote
Just because a court 50 years ago decided something, and based on THAT decision society has accepted the idea as "the way things should be" does NOT mean it is either right, Constitutional OR within the spirit the Founders tried to capture.

Well, to the best of my knowledge, there were no similar rulings before that point, and virtually all rulings after it are unified.  So, before that point, the exact meaning of the establishment clause was fairly hazy.  Numerous rulings in the past 50 years have clarified it.  That's an issue with such a vague document as the constitution.

Quote
I think you have to admit that we are a LONG way from the US Constitution, both in content and in the spirit the Founders intended.

As far as I can tell they deliberately made a lot of things vague in the Bill of Rights to allow interpretation and change.  Either that, or they were pretty terrible writers.  As a framework though, I do think it's a good system, for what that is worth.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 21, 2010, 05:16:57 PM
Quote
As far as I can tell they deliberately made a lot of things vague in the Bill of Rights to allow interpretation and change
strongly disagree. It was worded so they COULDN'T interpret or change it but they have.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 21, 2010, 05:43:53 PM
I'll take the middle ground between the two of you:
The Constitution, in places, was made a crystal clear as it possibly could be.  In other places, it was left in deliberately imprecise language.  That is where I have ENORMOUS respect for the wisdom of our founders.  To give just ONE example: In determining the grounds for impeachment of a President or other Federal officer, there are two VERY specific charges:  "Bribery", which has a clear legal definition, and "treason," which is actually defined IN the Constitution (and which, by that definition, both Jane Fonda AND the New York Times were clearly guilty of in recent history!!! But I digress!).  But then they included the maddeningly vague "and other high crimes and misdemeanors."  Why would they be so vague?  Because they were smart enough to realize that they could not foresee every possible circumstance which might warrant the removal of a President, so they left a clause that was somewhat open to interpretation ("Crimes and Misdemeanors") with a qualifying adjective ("High") to make sure that someone didn't try to remove a President or Federal Judge on trivial, politicized charges (although the sainted Thomas Jefferson did exactly that early in his Presidency when he did his best to remove a number of Federal judges for the crime of belonging to the opposition party!)
   I am glad to see my two students' recollection was not totally amiss, and, AHD, as far as wanting to "please me" - these two guys are more likely to try and bait me into a class-long debate that to score suck-up points for being rubber stamps to my opinions!  I still can't convince either of them that secession was illegal!  But they are a very impressive and opinionated pair of young men whose friendship means a great deal to me.

  My comments on "Engel vs. Vitale" is that the Supreme Court ruled in a completely new direction with no legal precedent whatsoever, and in so doing completely overturned longstanding, well-respected opinions expressed by our Founders and by the generations that succeeded them.  I have enough respect for the Constitution that I believe it should be changed by the legal amendment process rather than by the opinions of five men or women in black.

  All that being said, let me mention a couple of things, since I am one of the few Conservative, Christian Republicans on this board.  First of all, I have never met anyone on the right with any degree of education or credibility who believes that the state should be in the business of religious preaching or proselytizing.  Teachers in public schools should not be in the business of telling kids what to pray, who to pray to, or if they should pray at all.  But what I do see is school systems so eager to avoid being sued for violation of the Establishment clause that they are willing to bludgeon the Free Exercise clause in the process - ONLY if that Free Exercise is being practiced by Christians!  It is the selectivity of the repression that drives me nuts!  Student -led, voluntary  prayer during non-instructional time does not and will not ever threaten the Constitution.  What I would like to see is a simple ability for those in the public sector to occasionally tip their hats to the overwhelmingly Christian, Protestant philosophy that formed the intellectual background of our Founders' worldview.  They were equal part Locke and Luther,  Roussea and Calvin.

  One other note - as far as the restrictions I mentioned on public schoolteachers, and the issue of the valedictorian who was banned from mentioning the name of Jesus in his address to the school - I have several friends who teach in the Dallas Independent School district, and official policy bans them from using the phrase "Merry Christmas"  to their students , or in any holiday programming!  As far as the other case goes, David Barton, who actually filed an amicus curiae brief in that case, quoted the judge's words verbatim  in a seminar I attended a number of years back.  The judge later said that he was intending to be humorous, but the fact that he actually had a Federal Marshal seated on the front row when the young man spoke belies that statement.

  This is a very interesting discussion!


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 21, 2010, 06:36:37 PM

 I still can't convince either of them that secession was illegal! 


Show me the phrase in the US Constitution that says once a state becomes a state, it can never leave.  There is a ton of language on becoming a state, and NOT ONE SINGLE WORD, on leaving the union.  I find that silence extremely relevant.

I respectfully disagree that secession was illegal.  Further, I think it would have been ENCOURAGED by the Founders (certainly Jefferson), what with their whole hating strong centralized government thing (except for certain, very well delineated, specific examples that ARE LISTED in the document).

Why would the Founders, who used as their basis for the very structure of our government the notion of individual liberty and sovereign, transcendental human rights, codify that "we the people" HAVE to remain a part of a country whose government we reject?  I, as an individual, am free to leave and find citizenry elsewhere (unlike some government systems of recent world history), but I wonder why, by extension, if a majority group of citizens of a given state decides the similarly, rejecting statehood would be so repellent.

On its face, the only reason I can think that secession would be illegal is that it represents a net weakening of the union, or more precisely, the union's centralized government.  If this is the basis for illegality of secession, it flies directly in the face of everything the US Constitution represents.



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 21, 2010, 06:57:09 PM
  The Constitution of the United States begins with the phrase "We the PEOPLE of the United States of America . . ."  Not with "We the Thirteen United States of America."  The whole purpose of creating a more perfect Union was that it would be inherently unbreakable.  A Union whose member states could pack their slaves and leave any time they wanted would not be much of a Union at all.  That's is the guiding philosophy behind the Supremacy Clause in Article 6, and the whole idea of ratification in Article 7 - as soon as 9 states ratified the new Constitution, it would go into effect for those 9 and the other four would have to join up or be left out.
  I agree that Jefferson, in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions which he authored, did give a certain tacit support to the idea of secession by introducing the pernicious doctrine of nullification.  Once more, if the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, then the laws passed by the Congress under its auspices must be respected by ALL the States, even those that disagree with them.  That Jefferson would promote the idea of one state, at a whim, being able to set aside the decision of the Nation's Congress is one reason why he is my LEAST favorite of our founding fathers.
  But, it was a SOUTHERN President, and a SOUTHERN Supreme Court, that took up the issue of secession in 1832 during the tariff crisis, when South Carolina threatened to nullify the Federal Tariff, and if not allowed to do so, to secede from the Union!  Both President Jackson and the Court reviewed the language of the Constitution and found the idea of secession to be Unconstitutional and invalid.  Lincoln refered to their decision in his first inaugural address, and South Carolina, which had wisely deferred to the decision of Jackson and Taney a generation before, pulled a nutter and withdrew from the Union altogether . . . triggering a War which killed 640,000 Americans and also killed the "peculiar institution" they seceded to protect.

  So yes, secession is illegal, and we should have hung Jeff Davis from that "sour apple tree!" in my opinion!


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 21, 2010, 07:30:08 PM

  The whole purpose of creating a more perfect Union was that it would be inherently unbreakable.


I disagree with this completely.  The Union was, as I understand it, intended to be a LOOSE confederacy of States, joined only by those necessities that require working together to do well...common defense and commerce being the biggies.

The premise of the whole shebang was SELF governance...a genuine loathing of being "governed."  What you are describing is the essence of forced citizenry.

Let us suppose that, by whatever quirk of history this could POSSIBLY happen, I and every other person my State find the current federal government totally "wrong."  This may be a taxation issue, a moral issue or whatever principle you wish.  In your model, the only recourse we would have would be to LEAVE the US and seek citizenship elsewhere.  That would leave a state with no population, which it may or may not regain (but reorganization would then be required).

Why does it fly in the face of the spirit of the Constitution for this group to simply say, "let us self govern as a separate entity; we will ask nothing from you but the same recognition you give to every other nation on the planet (some of whom conduct themselves repugnantly)."

Quote

  A Union whose member states could pack their slaves and leave any time they wanted would not be much of a Union at all.  That's is the guiding philosophy behind the Supremacy Clause in Article 6,


I don't see where you get that...Article 6 states that the laws of the US are the supreme law of the US...okay.  What does that have to do with secession?  (Excepting the LATER Jackson issue you mention below).

Quote

  But, it was a SOUTHERN President, and a SOUTHERN Supreme Court, that took up the issue of secession in 1832 during the tariff crisis, when South Carolina threatened to nullify the Federal Tariff, and if not allowed to do so, to secede from the Union!  Both President Jackson and the Court reviewed the language of the Constitution and found the idea of secession to be Unconstitutional and invalid.  Lincoln refered to their decision in his first inaugural address, and South Carolina, which had wisely deferred to the decision of Jackson and Taney a generation before, pulled a nutter and withdrew from the Union altogether . . . triggering a War which killed 640,000 Americans and also killed the "peculiar institution" they seceded to protect.

  So yes, secession is illegal, and we should have hung Jeff Davis from that "sour apple tree!" in my opinion!


I'll give you that the war's outcome did trigger the downward spiral of the institution they were trying to protect.

But...ah, good old Article III...

The power of the Supreme Court's Constitutional Review was not inherent in the Constitution...that is a power the court gave itself (Marbury v Madison, about 15 years AFTER the document was written).  This leads to the question of the binding strength of precedent for setting enforceable law.  In other words, I might (for the sake of debate) reject the validity of your cited case since the Court has usurped a power not granted by the Constitution.

Within that framework, just because one President and a sitting Court had a certain view of secession does NOT mean, again, that that is the spirit of the Founders.  The problem with this is that any secession weakens said President and said Court, so it is self-serving to find it illegal.

(sorry this is rushed...gotta go...welcome your reply)


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 21, 2010, 07:52:59 PM

 I still can't convince either of them that secession was illegal! 


Show me the phrase in the US Constitution that says once a state becomes a state, it can never leave.  There is a ton of language on becoming a state, and NOT ONE SINGLE WORD, on leaving the union.  I find that silence extremely relevant.

I respectfully disagree that secession was illegal.  Further, I think it would have been ENCOURAGED by the Founders (certainly Jefferson), what with their whole hating strong centralized government thing (except for certain, very well delineated, specific examples that ARE LISTED in the document).

Why would the Founders, who used as their basis for the very structure of our government the notion of individual liberty and sovereign, transcendental human rights, codify that "we the people" HAVE to remain a part of a country whose government we reject?  I, as an individual, am free to leave and find citizenry elsewhere (unlike some government systems of recent world history), but I wonder why, by extension, if a majority group of citizens of a given state decides the similarly, rejecting statehood would be so repellent.

On its face, the only reason I can think that secession would be illegal is that it represents a net weakening of the union, or more precisely, the union's centralized government.  If this is the basis for illegality of secession, it flies directly in the face of everything the US Constitution represents.


Ii is debatable whether of not secession was a constitutional act at the time of the Civil War.  (Today state secession would clearly be unconstitutional as it would violate the privileges and immunities clause of the 14th Amendment: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States...")  Clearly, Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, and James Madison thought secession was unconstitutional, but the issue was not settled.

If secession was constitutional and the North's invasion of the sovereign South unconstitutional, however, I am happy that the Constitution was disregarded in that instance.  Ending the atrocity of slavery as soon as possible was of far greater moral importance than preserving the constitution.  Transcendental human rights were certainly better served by Lincoln's actions, since the right to be free from enslavement is a more transcendent human right than the right of a majority of citizens to secede from a government they don't like (especially when they were seceding so to preserve a form of government built around violating other people's human rights).

(Sorry Ulthar, you two keep posting before I can compose my last response, so I don't address your arguments.  Doesn't matter that much for my point). 



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 21, 2010, 09:18:10 PM

  Ending the atrocity of slavery as soon as possible was of far greater moral importance than preserving the constitution.  Transcendental human rights were certainly better served by Lincoln's actions, since the right to be free from enslavement is a more transcendent human right than the right of a majority of citizens to secede from a government they don't like (especially when they were seceding so to preserve a form of government built around violating other people's human rights).


The interesting point, though, is that slavery was on its way out anyway.  The Civil War hastened its demise by about 20 years at most.  So, one could argue that the moral impetus toward Emancipation had already begun and thus the Civil War did not really 'cause' the end of slavery.

The secessionists knew this, too.  They were largely 'fighting' to preserve their aristocratic way of life (which is  a deplorable reason to fight a war), but not everyone involved in the war was that self serving.  Still, seeing the handwriting on the wall the your entire economic foundation is crumbling can lead to desperate acts.  None of this settles the question of if, in the LONG run, preserving the Union at the expense of the Constitution's mandates for Strong States was a win for either the nation or mankind.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 21, 2010, 09:49:38 PM

  Ending the atrocity of slavery as soon as possible was of far greater moral importance than preserving the constitution.  Transcendental human rights were certainly better served by Lincoln's actions, since the right to be free from enslavement is a more transcendent human right than the right of a majority of citizens to secede from a government they don't like (especially when they were seceding so to preserve a form of government built around violating other people's human rights).


The interesting point, though, is that slavery was on its way out anyway.  The Civil War hastened its demise by about 20 years at most.  So, one could argue that the moral impetus toward Emancipation had already begun and thus the Civil War did not really 'cause' the end of slavery.

The secessionists knew this, too.  They were largely 'fighting' to preserve their aristocratic way of life (which is  a deplorable reason to fight a war), but not everyone involved in the war was that self serving.  Still, seeing the handwriting on the wall the your entire economic foundation is crumbling can lead to desperate acts.  None of this settles the question of if, in the LONG run, preserving the Union at the expense of the Constitution's mandates for Strong States was a win for either the nation or mankind.

Sure, but the South seceded in order to preserve the institution of slavery for as long as they could.  Had they succeeded they would have been a pariah state in the world and been forced to abandon slavery eventually anyway, but who knows when?  And even when they abandoned actual slavery, its probable it would have been replaced with an apartheid type system, something even worse than Jim Crow.

I wouldn't personally conflate the question of what is the proper power balance between states and the federal government with the issue of secession.  Federalism issues can be addressed by representative government: if people want more states rights they will elect representatives who will fight for that position, and presidents who will appoint judges who defend that position.  The fact is, people in the 20th century seem to prefer a powerful Federal government.  The states rights advocates are a vocal minority.

I agree with Lincoln, Madison, etc. that if states just seceded whenever they felt like it the result would be anarchy.  That's not a technical, legal Constitutional position, but a practical one.  I suspect if states were to secede, they would usually secede in order to form worse, less just societies (like the Confederacy).   

Glad we've been able to keep the discussion civil so far.  I've probably said all I have to say on the matter.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 21, 2010, 10:56:51 PM
OK, Ulthar, I thought I was  violating one of my Basic Rules of Life here ("Never attempt to have a rational discussion on the Civil War with someone from South Carolina"), but then I remembered that you are (I hope) from NORTH Carolina - an important distinction, to be sure!

You do raise many interesting points, but I think you began your argument with a flawed statement: "The Union was, as I understand it, intended to be a LOOSE confederacy of States, joined only by those necessities that require working together to do well...common defense and commerce being the biggies."   That was the purpose, not of the U.S. Constitution, but of the Articles of Confederation, our FIRST governing document.  What experience had demonstrated by 1787 was that the loose coalition of sovereign states created by the Articles was woefully inadequate.  With no power to tax, no power to regulate trade, no national court system, no national executive, and a mandatory requirement of a unanimous vote for any amendment, the Congress had, in effect, created a system that was broken from the start, and could not be mended.  That is why Madison and Hamilton and Washington decided that the only proper solution was to scrap the articles altogether and recreate the government from scratch.  Jefferson was not a part of that process and did not entirely approve the finished document, which is one reason I do not take too seriously his pronouncements on the Constitution.  Had he not been in France, he may well have joined the ranks of the Anti-Federalists.

As to whether or not slavery was on the way out:  The slave population of the U.S. grew in every single census from 1790 to 1860.  The South had grown more and more rabid and irrational in its defense of slavery, to the point of seeking to expand it into ALL the national territories, North and South, and endorsing a deeply flawed Supreme Court decision which declared ALL restrictions on slavery in the territories unconstitutional (the Dredd Scott decision).  In the end, the South decided to attempt the madness of secession because . . .  their candidate lost a Presidential election.  That's it.  Lincoln assured them time and again that he had no intention of touching slavery in the states where it already existed, but the fact that he believed slavery morally wrong and wanted to keep it from expanding into any new territories was ENOUGH for them.  The saddest part is, it was the Southern Democrats who deliberately split their party and insured Lincoln's victory!  The actions of the South in the secession crisis were so self-destructive and contrary to their stated goals you have to wonder what they were thinking!  Sam Houston summed it up best: "These damned fire-eaters are going to start a civil war in the defense of slavery, but they do not understand that the first shots of that war will be slavery's death-knell!"

Sam was a wise man!



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 22, 2010, 08:24:44 AM

OK, Ulthar, I thought I was  violating one of my Basic Rules of Life here ("Never attempt to have a rational discussion on the Civil War with someone from South Carolina"), but then I remembered that you are (I hope) from NORTH Carolina - an important distinction, to be sure!


LOL...this was worth the path this thread took to get here.

I lived in SC for 12 years, but it is interesting that you say NC is an important distinction.  The area in NC where I grew up had people 'still fighting' the Civil War well into the 20th century...at least in their minds.

Quote

As to whether or not slavery was on the way out:  The slave population of the U.S. grew in every single census from 1790 to 1860.  The South had grown more and more rabid and irrational in its defense of slavery, to the point of seeking to expand it into ALL the national territories, North and South, and endorsing a deeply flawed Supreme Court decision which declared ALL restrictions on slavery in the territories unconstitutional (the Dredd Scott decision). 


I'll only address this part for clarification of my point.  Slavery was on the way out in a global morality sense; the trade was getting well to the point of being too expensive, and I believe other nations were rather aggressively attacking slavers with war ships so as to free the slaves (this had been going on quite some time, as I understand it).


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 22, 2010, 10:23:23 AM
the civil war was totally unconstitutional and immoral. slavery was ended peacefully all over the world except for here. 600,000 people, most of whom had nothing to do with slavery or the slave trade, die...for humanity!! All so the slaves can live in NON equality??  A triumphant Lincoln has the first black guests to the white house and promptly tells them they should really go back to Africa!

Quote
With no power to tax, no power to regulate trade, no national court system, no national executive, and a mandatory requirement of a unanimous vote for any amendment, the Congress had, in effect, created a system that was broken from the start, and could not be mended. 

more like could not be manipulated by the elites for their own ends.

Quote
I agree with Lincoln, Madison, etc. that if states just seceded whenever they felt like it the result would be anarchy!

yes!!

Quote
suspect if states were to secede, they would usually secede in order to form worse, less just societies (like the Confederacy).   

this is the same rationale that got us into these war in the ME. If they want to be less just let them. It's their lives and communities. live and let live.



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 22, 2010, 01:05:04 PM
the civil war was totally unconstitutional and immoral. slavery was ended peacefully all over the world except for here. 600,000 people, most of whom had nothing to do with slavery or the slave trade, die...for humanity!! All so the slaves can live in NON equality??  A triumphant Lincoln has the first black guests to the white house and promptly tells them they should really go back to Africa!



Sorry to hear you feel that way.  It is not factual, however, that "the Civil War was totally unconstitutional."  That's a matter of debate that constitutional scholars continue to this day; either position is defensible.  James Madison, considered the architect of the US constitution, said that he thought secession was unconstitutional.  We don't know what his opinion would have been had he lived to the time of the Civil War, but I'm guessing he would disagree with you.  The US Supreme Court held in Texas v. White (http://supreme.justia.com/us/74/700/case.html) (1869) that Texas' secession was unconstitutional; I'm not sure the reasoning is airtight, but a Supreme Court decision also disagrees with you, and that's the highest authority in deciding what is constitutional and unconstitutional.   

I wonder what would happen if we polled current Supreme Court justices on whether the Civil War was constitutional.  My guess is the vote would be 9-0 in favor of its constitutionality. 

You're an anarchist, Lester, so I don't know why you'd want to use the Constitution to support your opinions.  I'm sure if you had been around at the time of the founding you would have been a hardcore anti-Federalist who opposed the adoption of the Constitution and wanted to continue living under the Articles of Confederation.  It's a reasonable position but it lost a long time ago.   


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 22, 2010, 01:42:01 PM
kind of true. still regardless of it's constitutionality if a state wants to leave it's their business. why would you want a state to remain in a union if they didn't want to be there?


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: ulthar on October 22, 2010, 02:10:54 PM

I'm sure if you had been around at the time of the founding you would have been a hardcore anti-Federalist who opposed the adoption of the Constitution and wanted to continue living under the Articles of Confederation.  It's a reasonable position but it lost a long time ago.   


That's a very interesting question...would WE have supported "x" in history.  It's a lot of fun (and much easier) to view it through the historical lens, but living it...'nother kettle of fish.

About 1/3 of the population were ambivalent about the Revolution and another 1/3 were loyalists...leaving only 1/3 of the population in support of the war (and the implied freedom from England).

I find this utterly fascinating - what WOULD I think?

Actually, I am seriously looking at Chile as a place to 'settle.'

As for anarchy, well, I am quite partial to Heinlein's notion of "rational anarchy," which basically states that civilization (and rule of law) is mostly an illusion, granted existence only by tacit agreement of men to live within those rules.  Ultimately, we are responsible for our own actions and choices, and make them independently of whatever government, laws or social order is "imposed."

It's like the ultimate essence of "personal freedom," made even more interesting by the fact that at the end of the book (The Moon is a Harsh Mistress), the people who were fighting toward their own freedom comprised a ruling class and founded a government.

There are some EXCELLENT quotes in that book regarding taxation, by the way.  It's a great book that explores the notions of freedom, personal responsibility, social order and rebellion.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 23, 2010, 09:46:27 AM
anarchy doesn't mean chaos. it just means a society without a state. You could have the same things you have now except you just pay people directly for their services without the middleman of the government taking their massive cut and maybe doing what you want and maybe not (usually the latter). Yeah it's extreme but history has shown centralized power is extremely dangerous.



Also, the 1/3 1/3 1/3 equation was true at first but the rebelion gained momentum as "insrugencies" tend to do and as it moved along the numbers for liberty from colonialism were much higher.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 23, 2010, 10:10:35 AM
The basic role of government is to prevent "the war of every man against every man."
Lester, I like you, but you sometimes strike me as a person who is willing to permit evil to thrive on every corner of the globe on the grounds that "it is none of our business."  Evil has a way of becoming our business!  Remember the warning of German pastor Martin Niemoller:
"When they came for the communists I did not speak up because I was not a communist.  When they came for the trade unionists I did not speak up because I was not a trade unionist.  When they came for the Jews, I did not speak up because I was not a Jew.  And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak up."

  I believe that there is such a thing as a moral duty to oppose evil.  Lincoln was right to oppose slavery; peacefully as long as he could and militarily when the South left him no other option.  Churchill was right to oppose Hitler.  And I firmly believe that the U.S. is absolutely right in opposing Islamic fundamentalism.  NOT Islam as a whole, you understand me, but the jihadists whose stated goal is nothing less than the complete destruction of 2,000 years of Western civilization.  I find the blindness of the American left on that issue absolutely maddening!


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 23, 2010, 11:58:42 AM
"Evil has a way of becoming our business!"

so if we hadn't invaded ,say, Panama, we woud all be speaking Panamanian now? Sorry, Americans work hard for their money and generally need as much as they can to survive. the government taking that money by force for ANY reason ESPECIALLY one as obviosly horrid as war is morally wrong, not just a waste though it's that too.

You should think more about Americans. Many of our ancestors came here to escape war and having their lives turned upside down by elites who would take their fruits of labor for idealistic purposes via communsim, fascism and other isms.  Our government should leave us and other people alone.  There s plenty of evil in this country to confront if that's what you are determined to do. We have 30+ million living below the poverty line. Lets help them first.



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 23, 2010, 12:46:54 PM
So you are against the government taking my money to defeat, oh, let's say, Nazi Germany.  But you are FOR the government taking my money to give it to those less financially fortunate than myself - even if their poverty is caused by unforgivably stupid life decisions, like having four kids before they turn 20?

Why Lester, you old socialist you! :bouncegiggle:


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 23, 2010, 02:12:38 PM
anarchy doesn't mean chaos. it just means a society without a state. You could have the same things you have now except you just pay people directly for their services without the middleman of the government taking their massive cut and maybe doing what you want and maybe not (usually the latter). Yeah it's extreme but history has shown centralized power is extremely dangerous.


Sounds like your ideal utopian society is Somalia today.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 23, 2010, 03:34:50 PM
indiana- I said if YOU wanted to help people. and really who is more of a socialist here? The Pentagon is in DC. It 's  run by beaurocrats. It uses ALOT of taxpayer dollars. Their wastefulness is legendary.

War is, as Randolph Borne once said,  the health of the state. War time powers are a tyrants dream. Criticism of the state is verbotten, they spy on people, take over industries and of course pluck people out and send them to their doom in far away places. It's the ultimate in big government.

Conservatives understood this during the CLinton years and had the correct view on the Eastern Europe interventions while the likes of Howard Dean were calling for blood.

More to the point: our trillion dollar a year mlitary budget diverts resources away from the domestic economy.

revpowell- lol no like I said anarchy is not chaos I am not for lack or order.

http://www.heritage.org/index/

^ this is more what I am talking about. I would simply like to see us ahead of hong kong on this list.

I don't have a utopian ideal other than I want people to be free to live their lives without state intervention into other countries, our private lives or the economy. The fact is most of our income taxes don't go to stuff we use or need. The roads are paid for with gas tax, the schools depending on where you live with the property tax. Income tax is by and large simply a slush fund for politcians s**tty ideas.

Maybe in the past people looked to the capitols for hope or inspiration or something but in the 21 century I think our lives are for the most part our families, our communities and our selves and our efforts should be focused there not on this grandiose world as chess game stuff via our inept governments.

I'm just opposed to coercian, basically. It's like I have cable but if people don't want to have it, should we MAKE them have it because like it's better if we are all on the same wavelength and can discuss Jersey SHore or something? WHo cares. let people live how they see fit and put our efforts into ideas that don't have to be forced onto people to come to fruition.



Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 23, 2010, 06:59:47 PM

revpowell- lol no like I said anarchy is not chaos I am not for lack or order.

[url]http://www.heritage.org/index/[/url]

^ this is more what I am talking about. I would simply like to see us ahead of hong kong on this list.

I don't have a utopian ideal other than I want people to be free to live their lives without state intervention into other countries, our private lives or the economy. The fact is most of our income taxes don't go to stuff we use or need. The roads are paid for with gas tax, the schools depending on where you live with the property tax. Income tax is by and large simply a slush fund for politcians s**tty ideas.

Maybe in the past people looked to the capitols for hope or inspiration or something but in the 21 century I think our lives are for the most part our families, our communities and our selves and our efforts should be focused there not on this grandiose world as chess game stuff via our inept governments.

I'm just opposed to coercian, basically. It's like I have cable but if people don't want to have it, should we MAKE them have it because like it's better if we are all on the same wavelength and can discuss Jersey SHore or something? WHo cares. let people live how they see fit and put our efforts into ideas that don't have to be forced onto people to come to fruition.




There are some libertarians who appear to admire Somalia: http://mises.org/daily/2701.

As far as the US being 8th on that economic freedom list, I guess I depends on whether you're a glass half empty or glass half full type of guy.  I think 8th out of 179 in the world is pretty darn good (though it does seem awfully strange that Canada, with socialized medicine, ranks ahead of us).  When you consider we also rank high for civil liberties (which a high-ranking economic country like Singapore can't claim), and also prosperity and security... I'm pretty happy with our current society.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: lester1/2jr on October 24, 2010, 10:10:53 AM
Well, I think the authors point was that while life in Somalia wasn't fantastic at least they didn't have some Robert Mugabe type dictator taking everyones land, naming streets after himself and assasinating his relatives and so forth, They also, amazingly, had a stable currency something we can't even manage. I am not advocate of any somali style anarchy though.

I think we have just scratched the surface of the possibilites of capitalism.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 24, 2010, 12:43:12 PM
No, folks in Somalia simply file into soccer stadiums to watch 13 year old girls stoned to death for indecency!!!

Anyone who prefers that kind of anarchy to the American system of government has NO moral compass whatsoever!


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Rev. Powell on October 24, 2010, 01:10:22 PM
No, folks in Somalia simply file into soccer stadiums to watch 13 year old girls stoned to death for indecency!!!

Anyone who prefers that kind of anarchy to the American system of government has NO moral compass whatsoever!

Are you confusing Somalia with Afghanistan under the Taliban?  I don't think Lester would pick their government over ours.

Anarchy ain't good, but I think it may be preferable to life under a well-organized dictatorship.  On the other hand, Middle Easterners often appear to prefer stable dictatorships to chaos, and I guess I can see why.  It's nice to be able to predict which direction the oppression will come from.   


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: Jim H on October 24, 2010, 06:05:29 PM
No, folks in Somalia simply file into soccer stadiums to watch 13 year old girls stoned to death for indecency!!!

Anyone who prefers that kind of anarchy to the American system of government has NO moral compass whatsoever!


Are you confusing Somalia with Afghanistan under the Taliban?  I don't think Lester would pick their government over ours.

Anarchy ain't good, but I think it may be preferable to life under a well-organized dictatorship.  On the other hand, Middle Easterners often appear to prefer stable dictatorships to chaos, and I guess I can see why.  It's nice to be able to predict which direction the oppression will come from.   


This is what he's referring to, I believe.

http://www.stop-stoning.org/en/node/433 (http://www.stop-stoning.org/en/node/433)

One thing I will note:

Quote from: The Article
Inside the stadium, militia members opened fire when some of the witnesses to the killing attempted to save her life, and shot dead a boy who was a bystander.


Title: Re: O'Donnell questions separation of church and state
Post by: indianasmith on October 24, 2010, 11:21:21 PM
Oh the charming face of radical Islam!
It's hard to be religious when some people are never incinerated by lightning bolts.