Jay Reding.com

Brownback Shoots His Mouth Off

Captain Ed rightly takes Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to task for criticizing a federal judge nominee for being present at a Massachusetts “commitment ceremony.” Senator Brownback apparently takes an issue with a federal judge being at such a ceremony.

Judge Neff did nothing illegal. She attended a private function for the daughter of a longtime friend. Last I checked, Sen. Brownback has the right to wag his finger at the Judge’s behavior, but that is not grounds for disqualifying her for the federal bench.

The fact that Sen. Brownback is asking Neff to recuse herself from any case involving same-sex unions is not only patently silly, but also a likely violation of the doctrine of separation of powers. Making a judge beholden to a member of the legislature on a political promise is certainly unethical, and Brownback should be ashamed for even suggesting such a thing.

Brownback may be trying to court social conservatives, but he’s shot himself in the foot with everyone else. His aspirations to the Oval Office were always a longshot, and this little outburst illustrates exactly why.

10 responses to “Brownback Shoots His Mouth Off”

  1. Erica says:

    But, hey, I’m sure he doesn’t object on religious grounds, right? I mean, suborning civic law to religious doctrine would make him a Christianist, right? And we all know they don’t really exist…

    I have to ask you. If a politican was governing purely from his religion, setting that above Constitutional principles or our traditions of law, what exactly do you think that would look like?

    Brownback may be trying to court social conservatives

    Or, alternatively – maybe he actually thinks that a judge who doesn’t flee in revulsion from the idea of two people of the same sex building a life together isn’t suited to sit the bench?

    I mean did it ever occur to you that these people are simply being honest about what they believe? (Could I put more question marks in a single post?)

  2. Jay Reding says:

    But, hey, I’m sure he doesn’t object on religious grounds, right? I mean, suborning civic law to religious doctrine would make him a Christianist, right? And we all know they don’t really exist…

    And if we accept that definition, then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a “Christianist” – he suborned civil law (as in Jim Crow laws), and you damn well better believe he did it firmly from a basis of Christian morality. (Read “Letter from Birmingham Jail”) Damn those evil theocrats!

    I have to ask you. If a politican was governing purely from his religion, setting that above Constitutional principles or our traditions of law, what exactly do you think that would look like?

    Iran. When a politician starts calling for Christianity to be made the official state religion, then such an otherwise infantile term like “Christianist” would be appropriate. Until then, it’s just a silly little word denoting one’s irrational hyperbole.

    Or, alternatively – maybe he actually thinks that a judge who doesn’t flee in revulsion from the idea of two people of the same sex building a life together isn’t suited to sit the bench?

    No, he thinks that a judge who participates in such a ceremony might not be able to rule objectively on same-sex marriage issues. That’s a reasonable concern, even if Brownback’s reaction was not.

    I mean did it ever occur to you that these people are simply being honest about what they believe? (Could I put more question marks in a single post?)

    I have no doubt that Sen. Brownback is ideologically opposed to gay marriage – it’s hardly a secret. He’s going to be inclined to vote for judges who share that view – which again is not a secret. Just as Ted Kennedy would vote against a judge who was present at a pro-life rally. Would that, therefore, make Senator Kennedy an “infanticidalist?”

  3. Seth says:

    Gotta love the wacky religious right.

  4. Erica says:

    When a politician starts calling for Christianity to be made the official state religion

    And when the politicians start saying that Christianity already is the official state religion? Like the congressman from Virginia who opposes Keith Ellison’s right to swear into office on the Koran, according to his own religion?

    Does that count? If not, why not?

    No, he thinks that a judge who participates in such a ceremony might not be able to rule objectively on same-sex marriage issues.

    No, he thinks that a pro-gay marriage judge isn’t going to kowtow to the religious right’s anti-gay agenda. He’s right, of course, but neither he nor you give any reason why not cleaving to anti-gay Christianist dogma represents a failure to be objective.

    Just as Ted Kennedy would vote against a judge who was present at a pro-life rally. Would that, therefore, make Senator Kennedy an “infanticidalist?”

    Funny, but I’ve heard him described by your ideological peers as exactly that. Where’s the front-page post on Jayreding.com about “Baby-killing Boogeymen”?

  5. Will says:

    I really hope Brownback runs for Pres, along with Guiliani. It will almost certainly split the already fractured Republican base in two. That’s going to be fun to watch…

  6. Jay Reding says:

    And when the politicians start saying that Christianity already is the official state religion? Like the congressman from Virginia who opposes Keith Ellison’s right to swear into office on the Koran, according to his own religion?

    That was Dennis Prager, who was a talk show host, not a Congressman. And furthermore, he was roundly criticized for it from all sides. Prager’s argument was that the values of the Qu’ran are inimical to democratic values — which is an argument to be made, if a particularly bad one. I rather doubt that had Ellison simply chosen to make an affirmation (as the Constitution provides) rather than swearing on a Bible he would have said anything.

    No, he thinks that a pro-gay marriage judge isn’t going to kowtow to the religious right’s anti-gay agenda. He’s right, of course, but neither he nor you give any reason why not cleaving to anti-gay Christianist dogma represents a failure to be objective.

    “Anti-gay Christianist dogma?” Gee, little bit of prejudice there?

    I disapprove of gay marriage because it has no foundations in Constitutional law and because judicial mandates for it go against democratic values — for the same reason that Justice Scalia does.

    If a candidate for the federal bench were found to have attended a pro-life rally, would you complain? Somehow I doubt you’d let that one pass, and Brownback was doing the same. Especially if the judge had been at the ceremony in some kind of official capacity, that would be reason enough to question her neutrality in adjudicating those issues.

    Your bigoted and prejudicial assumption that all opponents of gay marriage are “Christianists” and “anti-gay” is the kind of sloppy thinking that I’ve criticized Andrew Sullivan for. Even if the argument happens to be true in this case, it’s still no less sloppy and no less prejudiced.

    Funny, but I’ve heard him described by your ideological peers as exactly that. Where’s the front-page post on Jayreding.com about “Baby-killing Boogeymen”?

    Because in the case of Senator Kennedy, it’s true. He rejects any limitation on abortion whatsoever. It’s not a boogeyman if it so happens to be objectively true. (Unlike Sullivan’s “Christianist” smear.)

    I don’t doubt that there are nutbags who think that the Bible should be the only source of law, but they’re a tiny, tiny minority. When Sullivan starts calling people like Ramesh Ponnuru “Christianists” and “theocrats” merely because they find life valuable, he’s gone entirely over the edge.

  7. Erica says:

    That was Dennis Prager, who was a talk show host, not a Congressman.

    Wrong again, my friend. That was Virgil Goode, R-VA:

    http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/docs/goode-letter/

    I disapprove of gay marriage because it has no foundations in Constitutional law and because judicial mandates for it go against democratic values — for the same reason that Justice Scalia does.

    How can it go against democratic values when the majority of people support marriage-like rights for gay couples? Moreover – if states didn’t want to have to allow gay marriage, they shouldn’t have enacted equal treatment statutes into their constitutions. You can’t simply go back 100 years after the fact and say “whoops, when we said ‘equal treatment under the law’, we didn’t mean that equal.”

    Sorry, but interpreting the constitution is precisely democratic values.

    If a candidate for the federal bench were found to have attended a pro-life rally, would you complain?

    No, since I’m sure many of them have. They have the same right to free association that anybody else does.

    Your bigoted and prejudicial assumption that all opponents of gay marriage are “Christianists” and “anti-gay” is the kind of sloppy thinking that I’ve criticized Andrew Sullivan for.

    Did I say all opponents? No? Then stop misrepresenting me.

    Even if the argument happens to be true in this case, it’s still no less sloppy and no less prejudiced.

    Right. Jayreding.com, where saying true things is “sloppy” and “prejudiced.”

    Unlike Sullivan’s “Christianist” smear.

    Not so, since Sullivan regularly provides dramatic examples of Christianism in action – something you’ve never been able to address.

    When Sullivan starts calling people like Ramesh Ponnuru “Christianists” and “theocrats” merely because they find life valuable

    What makes you think Ponnuru simply “finds like valuable”? If your refutation of Sullivan relies on you knowing better than Ponnuru himself what Ponnuru is thinking, what motivates him, I’d say you’re on some pretty ridiculous grounds.

  8. Nicq MacDonald says:

    ‘When Sullivan starts calling people like Ramesh Ponnuru “Christianists” and “theocrats” merely because they find life valuable, he’s gone entirely over the edge.’

    I don’t think that’s why. I thought his reasoning was the same as Derbyshire’s- that Christian “natural law” is a totalizing system that ultimately becomes as absurd and potentially destructive as Marxism or Utilitarianism when taken to the rhetorical extremes that its contemporary proponents are going to. (But I could be wrong.)

  9. Jay Reding says:

    Wrong again, my friend. That was Virgil Goode, R-VA:

    Ah, I hadn’t seen that story. Whatta loon…

    How can it go against democratic values when the majority of people support marriage-like rights for gay couples? Moreover – if states didn’t want to have to allow gay marriage, they shouldn’t have enacted equal treatment statutes into their constitutions. You can’t simply go back 100 years after the fact and say “whoops, when we said ‘equal treatment under the law’, we didn’t mean that equal.”

    If so many people support it, why have states passed bans on gay marriage?

    If people want to vote in gay marriage, I’m fine. That’s the democratic will, and states should be allowed to experiment. However, when judges administer it via judicial fiat, that suborns the democratic system. It isn’t there place.

    Nor is gay marriage an equal protection issue. Marriage is not a substantive fundamental right, and the Supreme Court has declared it so, but then not actually followed through in later cases. Even the New Jersey ruling doesn’t say that marriage is a fundamental right.

    What makes you think Ponnuru simply “finds like valuable”? If your refutation of Sullivan relies on you knowing better than Ponnuru himself what Ponnuru is thinking, what motivates him, I’d say you’re on some pretty ridiculous grounds.

    He wrote a book on the subject that makes his views quite clear.

    Sullivan’s fundamental mistake is associating anyone who believes that Christianity should so much as inform law with fundamentalists who want to suborn civil law with religious law. That goes against the entire history of American jurisprudence which is based at a fundamental level on natural law principles. If Sullivan wants to make that argument, then Dr. Martin Luther King was a “Christianist,” as were most of the Founding Fathers. He’d have to get rid of most Democrats, most Republicans, and a good swath of the Supreme Court.

    Kathryn Jean Lopez is not a “theocrat.” Neither is Ramesh Ponnuru, nor Jonah Goldberg, nor George W. Bush, nor most evangelicals. The more Sullivan uses such careless and incendiary terms, the more sloppy his argument becomes.

  10. Erica says:

    If so many people support it, why have states passed bans on gay marriage?

    If only 27% of people approve of their Congressperson, why do more than 90% of them usually get re-elected? I shouldn’t have to explain to a political science major how politicial subdividing can wind up privileging minority viewpoints.

    Nor is gay marriage an equal protection issue.

    Oh, of course it is. What nonsense.

    Sullivan’s fundamental mistake is associating anyone who believes that Christianity should so much as inform law with fundamentalists who want to suborn civil law with religious law.

    Funny, but despite being asked several times you’ve never presented any evidence this is the case. And anybody who reads his column knows this is false.

    If Sullivan wants to make that argument, then Dr. Martin Luther King was a “Christianist,” as were most of the Founding Fathers.

    The Founding Fathers were deists, which you would have known if your grasp of American history wasn’t as faulty as your grasp of science.

    Kathryn Jean Lopez is not a “theocrat.” Neither is Ramesh Ponnuru, nor Jonah Goldberg, nor George W. Bush, nor most evangelicals.

    Why? Just because you say so? The simple truth of the matter is that, thanks to the Schaivo incident, we know exactly who the theocons are – from K-Lo, who never saw a Christian-based invasion of privacy she couldn’t get behind, to good ol’ “video doctor” Bill Frist, making medically impossible diagnoses from a “Best of Terri Schaivo” videotape.