Today’s News Roundup: God and Guns

There’s a lot going on that I want to write about, and I’ll never get to it all. This post is about stuff going on not related to the J6 hearings. Tomorrow’s hearing will begin at 3 pm EST, last I heard.

Yesterday the Supreme Court put a big crack in the wall between church and state. In Carson v. Makin, the Court ruled that a Maine school voucher program could not refuse to fund vouchers that pay for religious education. Ian Millhiser explains at Vox,

About 5,000 students in Maine’s most rural areas, where it is not cost-efficient for the state to operate a public school, receive tuition vouchers that can be used to pay for private education. Maine law provides that these vouchers may only be used at “nonsectarian” schools, not religious ones.

Carson struck down this law excluding religious schools from the Maine voucher program, and that decision could have broad implications far beyond the few thousand students in Maine who benefit from these tuition subsidies.

Not that long ago, the Court required the government to remain neutral on questions of religion — a requirement that flowed from the First Amendment’s command that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” In practice, that meant that the government could neither impose burdens on religious institutions that it didn’t impose on others, nor could it actively subsidize religion.

Carson turns this neutrality rule on its head, holding that government benefit programs that exclude religious institutions engage in “discrimination against religion” that violates the Constitution.

It used to be that no public money was ever supposed to go to parochial schools, for any reason. Then (as I remember) a few decades ago the Court decided that it would be okay if the state provided money that benefited parochial students, as long as it didn’t pay for religious instruction. The state could help pay for school buses or for a school nurse, for example, but could not subsidize anything going on in the classrooms that might include religious instruction. But now states can’t disciriminate against religious schools if subsidies are going to non-religious private schools, it appears.

Millhiser goes on to explain that Chief Justice Roberts included language in the decision that says its okay if schools don’t provide religious instruction. In other words, this decision is not supposed to open the door to somebody claiming discrimination if the local public school isn’t teaching children that Jesus is their Savior.

But the Court’s logic seems to be saying that neutrality toward religion is the same thing as discrimination against religion. So they do seem to be inching closer to a decision that religious instruction might be introduced into public schools, or that parochial schools might be in a position to demand more comprehensive government subsidy.

The part the Christianistas don’t seem to grasp is that constitutionally this couldn’t be limited to Christian instruction. If the Right went crazy when some nice Sufi Muslims wanted to open a community center near Ground Zero, wait until they find their tax dollars are paying to indoctrinate kids into Wahabi Sunni Islam. You know, the folks who really were behind September 11. There would be no way around that without completely ignoring the establishment clause of the First Amendment. Of course, our originalist justices could come up with some reason why they can ignore the establishment clause. They are a creative crew.

At the extreme end of this argument, government might be put in a position to decide which belief system calling itself “religion” really is religion and not just some nonsense thrown together to bilk the state out of money. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. It’s really better if government just stays the hell out of religion, and lets it do its own thing on its own dime, which is supposed to have been the general rule all this time.

Yesterday several Trump-endorsed candidates lost runoff primary elections in Georgia, and by very large margins. This is not to say that Georgia voters have necessarily come to their senses, since the winning candidates are still wingnuts who align with Trumpism if not Trump. But it does tell us that Georgia Republican voters may have moved past Trump the man. So they are still hard-right wackjobs, but they aren’t going to follow Trump off a cliff. I guess that’s something.

You may have heard some Stephen Colbert staffers were escorted out of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill after they’d finished doing some interviews with Congress critters featuring Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. They were lingering in the hallway when security came to detain them.

The Colbert people had not broken into the building but had gone through security and were invited into congressional offices. The problem, according to security staff, was that they were still in the building after public visiting hours were over, and they’d been asked to leave earlier and did not. I believe they have to face unlawful entry charges.

Then Tucker Carlson went crazy and claimed the Colbert people were committing insurrection just like on J6. There is no indication Carlson was joking. You can read about this, and how Colbert took down Carlson, here and here.

Details have been worked out in the lame Senate gun bill, so now we get to see if the Republicans who worked on the bill will vote for it. Here’s what’s in the final bill. I understand the bill was hung up for a few days over closing the “boyfriend loophole.” The mostly male bipartisan group working on the bill struggled to agree on who qualifies as a “boyfriend.”

In related news, you might remember that Texas Sen. John Cornyn was booed at the Texas GOP state convention when he tried to speak about the gun bill. Now the MAGA heads have started a rumor that Cornyn is pushing a bipartisan bill that would provide amnesty to illegal immigrants. No, he isn’t. Cornyn has supported some immigration reform in the past, but not that. But it goes to show that once the MAGA people decide you’re the enemy, they’ll go into overdrive making up reasons to hate you.

Ghastly details about the Uvalde school shooting are still trickling out. See After Uvalde, an emerging narrative of police incompetence by Zeeshan Aleem at MSNBC.

On Tuesday, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, revealed an astonishing assessment of how poorly he believed local police handled the response to the mass shooting in Uvalde during a Texas Senate committee hearing: He said he believed there were enough properly equipped police officers to stop the shooting just three minutes after it began — instead of the roughly hour and 14 minutes it ended up taking.

McCraw also said a door to the classroom where the shooter was wreaking havoc was unlocked, contradicting initial claims from law enforcement officials who said that part of the reason that it took so long to neutralize the shooter was that the door was locked.

See also Officer Husband of Slain Uvalde Teacher Tried to Save Her But Was Detained, Removed from Scene, Says Official. Let the litigation begin. Some people involved in that disaster might consider living somewhere else, under an assumed name. Maybe growing a beard, too.

6 thoughts on “Today’s News Roundup: God and Guns

  1. Of course, our originalist justices could come up with some reason why they can ignore the establishment clause.

    They who 'interpret' the laws make the laws.  The Roberts Court is not answerable to anyone or anything;  they can ignore any part of the Constitution and Amendments that they want to and they do NOT have have to provide any reasoning or explanation.  They will find ways to make sure the 'freedom of religion' really only applies to 'christianity'.

    The different between the Roberts Court and the Alito Court is that John Roberts is every bit as much a white christian nationalist as Alito &Barrett & Kavanaugh & Gorsuch & Thomas; he just wants to gut everything to assure control to white christians slower and more subtly than the Alito Court so that America can pretend 'the others' rights are not disappearing.

    The Alito Court has had a strong taste of imposing their religious dogma on all Americans and they have a sense of urgency to complete the job.  In the next few years, expect Griswold v Connecticut (contraceptives/right to privacy) and Obergefell v Hodges (same-sex marriage) to be the next to be overturned. I expect that further down the road they will overturn Brown v Board of Education.

  2. As for the Senate gun bill, well, I suppose weak tea is better than no tea at all.  And this tea is so weak, it's like the teabag that was used had already made a few (dozen) cups.  So, technically, while it looks and tastes like water, it ain't water, it's tea.

    I read about that Maine decision yesterday, and was extremely depressed.  And very, very pissed-off!

    "Originalism" is a nice way to say you hate men without property, but even more so, minorities and women. 

    Imo:  "Originalism" and "Fundamentalism" are conjoined twins.  And those two are killing America, and may yet kill it entirely.

    If I were younger, I'd move to Maine and start a junior high and high school for witches and warlocks.  

    Then, I'd start a Muslim one, and a Buddhist one.  And I'd hire maha to manage the Buddhist one – at a nice 6-figure salary, to boot!

    1
    • "If I were younger, I'd move to Maine and start a junior high and high school for witches and warlocks.”:

      Name the first school after Harry Potter.

  3. Regarding the Senate gun bill…. House GOP leadership has moved to oppose even these mild restrictions. Re the "Red Flag" enforcement in the boyfriend clause, the reasoning seems to be that it's better for ten women to be shot by misogynist males than for one male to have his second amendment rights curtailed.

    Re Uvlade. The effing doors were unlocked the ENTIRE time!  I understand that the TX Dept of Public Safety accused the cop in charge of placing a higher value on cop's lives than on children's lives. (His words, though not a direct quote.) So the Governor of TX is going to let a cop take the fall, but the guv doesn't want to be seen doing the deed of actually throwing him under the bus.

    I read that the SOB in charge, (whose name I won't bother to look up) was also elected before the massacre to the City Council. He was sworn in (in a secret ceremony) while kids were getting buried. He was denied a request for a leave of absence from the City Council. So the city fathers aren't going to take the heat for letting him lay low until the protests go away. 

    The bastard has a sense of entitlement second only to the Orange One. He seems to think he can ride out the slaughter of 19 kids and continue to suckle at the teat of public "service." He's probably got no idea how (or intention to learn) how to earn a living by working in the public sector. And he couldn't get a job as an unarmed mall cop if he could figure out how to write a resume. 

  4. Old vet is right on. Why should i pay taxes to pay for religious schools who can discriminate at will?

    And yes the 2nd does not say you get to carry your machine gun everywhere to bully intimidate threaten and like Rittenhouse pretend the unarmed are endangering you so you can kill them.

    Religion is really the huge blindspot of the court. The abortion decisions are nothing but legally enforcing religious belief on others. There is nothing in the constitution that justifies the current court. They state things like the word abortion isnt in the constition disingenuously. Well corporation isnt either, it is not a human endowed by a creator of certain inalienable rights. African americans are not mentioned as a group. Girl ,woman not there.  Native people mentioned only as an outside group to regulate trade with and since  not taxed not counted for Congressional representation.

    They have lost all legitimacy in every one's eyes.

    It really is time to rethink the bases of the legal system.

  5. One note : how can the Supreme court claim that the unarmed have no right to be safe and unthreatened when they do not allow open carry in their court and protesters are not allowed to protest in public space near their homes? They claim a right to safety that they deny to others.

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