Pray for DeRay…

IF YOU HAD ANY DOUBT ABOUT THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF TRUMP APPOINTED JUDGES ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, have a look at the current case being brought against activist, educator and author DeRay McKesson.  The 5th Circuit has reversed a prior ruling and describes the case as follows:

During a public protest against police misconduct in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an unidentified individual hit Officer John Doe with a heavy object, causing him serious physical injuries. Following this incident, Officer Doe brought suit against “Black Lives Matter,” the group associated with the protest, and DeRay Mckesson, one of the leaders of Black Lives Matter and the organizer of the protest. Officer Doe later sought to amend his complaint to add Black Lives Matter Network, Inc. and #BlackLivesMatter as defendants. The district court dismissed Officer Doe’s claims on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), and denied his motion to amend his complaint as futile. Because we conclude that the district court erred in dismissing the case against Mckesson on the basis of the pleadings, we REMAND for further proceedings relative to Mckesson. We further hold that the district court properly dismissed the claims against Black Lives Matter.1 We thus REVERSE in part, AFFIRM in part, and REMAND for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Basically, the court is trying to hold McKesson personally liable for the harm done to the officer because of his prominence and affiliation with and leadership in Black Lives Matter.

Never mind that the officer is unnamed in all of this…

Never mind that I cannot find any evidence of a tobacco executive going to jail for the generational damage to human health they promoted…

Never mind that McKesson did not lead this protest, but attended it at the request of local organizers…

What you should take note of is that the three judges in the 5th Circuit hearing the case are deeply conservative.  Their names:

1.) Don Willett (Federalist Society…Trump appointee) – You can read about objection to Willett’s nomination to the bench: https://civilrights.org/resource/oppose-confirmation-don-willett-u-s-court-appeals-fifth-circuit/

2.) Jennifer Walker Elrod (Federalist Society…Bush appointee) – Read about criticism of her appointment and lack of qualifications: https://www.cardin.senate.gov/news/press-releases/nomination-of-jennifer-walker-elrod-to-be-united-states-circuit-judge-for-the-fifth-circuit

3.) Grady Jolly ret. Jolly has retired and Halil Suleyman Ozerden has been nominated by Trump to fill this seat. Ozerden became a member of the Federalist Society this year.  Ironically, Ozerden is apparently not Conservative enough for some Sentors: https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2019/09/12/why-ted-cruz-opposes-5th-circuit-nominee-halil-suleyman-ozerden/?slreturn=20191114085816

There is nothing wrong with conservative judges.  There is also nothing wrong or out of the ordinary with a President appointing judges aligned with their party and politics.  The problem is that Trump’s current Republican party and politics is driving an agenda that opportunistically cultivates mistrust, fear and ideologically based dis-information. Judges with the kinds of records and clear political agendas apparent in these judge’s careers are in my opinion more likely than not to be biased in this specific case; every judge has some bias and ethical leaning.  But the danger lies in that with our current environment, the toxicity of natural bias is multiplied tenfold.  The real damage being wrought by Trump and Mitch McConnell is their ability to amplify partisanship and ideology through our existing systems that have long been bastions of public trust…like the judiciary.  The “Information Age” is being weaponized by the politics of disinformation and it is being used here as state sponsored intimidation.  McKesson himself says,

“The goal of lawsuits like these is to prevent people from showing up at a protest out of the fear that they might be held responsible if anything happens [.…] If this precedent lasts, it could make organizers all across the country responsible for all types of things they have no control over, such as random people coming into a protest and causing problems. We can’t let that happen.” – DeRay McKesson – ACLU 12/6/19

We are all aware of the epidemic disinformation currently being propagated by the Republican Party at the behest of President Trump.  That’s the big stuff.  What we need to be aware of is this smaller (though equally important) stuff closer to home that works on a local and state level.  Dealing with a political party that is obsessed with framing itself in terms of “states’ rights” requires diligence.  “States’ rights” have a long history of legitimizing violence against people of color (lynching is a prime example.)  All of us need to be aware of the judicial appointments being made in our areas.  Our rights to protest, to resist, to push back against authoritarianism and to fight for something better than a reality TV government are at risk.  Our rights mean nothing before a judge who has been given the authority to pre-judge based on a narrow ideology and enabled by a government that is force feeding the public lies.

Get to know your district justice system (List of US District Courts of Appeals) and recognize that the poison being spread by Trump will last well after he is dead. For all of our good, pray for DeRay.

-ALD

Legislating Sex

orange yellow green and blue abstract painting
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Arizona artists win suit over same-sex wedding invitations – Associated Press 9/17

Faith and sexuality cannot remain in conflict in the United States.  Faith and sexuality exist in different orbits of what it means to be human; even if they do cross paths they have no reason to collide.  Belief by its very nature is primarily subjective.  As belief is based on perception of the world and perception of existence, it lives with the individual and it must be subjective.  Although heavily influenced by facts of our embodied existence (ability, race, gender…and yes, sexuality) the way one person experiences that reality cannot be the same as any other being.

Although we are accustomed to thinking of sexuality as being subjective, it is different.  Sexuality is a fact.  Even though the expression of that sexuality (between humans) may be completely subjective, the fact of human sexuality is part of what defines the human creature.  We are in part defined from other beings through our capacity to experience sexuality as intentional communication with each other and not simply hormonal or instinctive impulse. What is more, one expression of that sexuality is not more valid or more natural than another, barring explicit protections for those who are vulnerable to exploitation or oppression through that expression.

Ask any atheist and they will tell you that religion is not an absolute part of how we are defined as beings.  What is part of what defines us as human is our higher brain function that allows us to experience religion as foundational to life and organized community.  The exercise of this brain function can be a beautiful part of the human experience; and it can be the cause for war.  In fact, it is our higher brain function ironically that creates the war between the subjective elements in question here: our expression of belief as religion and our expression of sexuality.

Government in the United States has always ultimately failed at legislating our basic humanity.  Slavery, Indian removal, disenfranchisement of women, legal sterilization of those perceived as “inferior”, preventing interracial marriage…these are all eventual legislative failures because they attempt to treat as subjective what is and will always be objective in the human being: embodiment. Today, we are gearing up for what will surely be a Supreme Court decision on the full embodied humanity of LGBTQ people.  But LGBTQ people will win because our existence and the fact of human sexuality which defines us has always included a wide spectrum of manifestations and should never have been questioned to begin with.

Insulting though this entire exercise of having to prove our right to exist in our bodies may be, we LGBTQ people must continue to remind communities of “faith” who would deny us wedding invitations, marriage licenses, work and housing that no law can invalidate the basic right to human sexuality.  We must stop legislating humanity.  There is no “sincerely held belief” that is more valid than your or my DNA.

I promise, if you keep your God out of my bedroom, I will not to have sex on your altar.

-ALD

RESOURCES:

“Religious Liberty” advocate site (conservative/Christian):

The Gospel Coalition on the advance of Religious Liberty bills

 

Liberal pro LGBTQ voices:

Center For American Progress on Religious Liberty

American Civil Liberties Union legislation impacting LGBTQ people

Southern Poverty Law Center on anti-LGBTQ initiatives

 

Non-Partisan:

Desert News on Religious Liberty Bills

Bill of Rights Institute history of Religious Liberty Bills