Pray for Marriage

Today, April 28, our U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument concerning the question of whether state laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman are constitutional. It seems, as expected, that Court-watchers believe that the swing vote will once again fall to Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Justice Ginsburg had previously shown her hand in an interview earlier this year, essentially expressing a belief that America is “ready” for same-sex marriage. And Justices Sotomayor and Kagan appear in favor of it as well.

As you go about your day, and in the two months or so that it will take for the Court to issue its decision on this highly important case, please pray for the Justices, and Justice.

Same-sex marriage does considerable injustice: to the persons who enter into such relationships, to the people who “support” and “affirm” them, to surrounding families and relatives who experience its consequences, to the social fabric of our communities, and particularly to children who will suffer if such “rights” are recognized.

However, even if the Supreme Court determines that there are no compelling reasons for preserving the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, it does not mean that the battle is over, or that Truth has been defeated. The Supreme Court does not possess the authority to redefine marriage. That it would do so will have grave implications for the Rule of Law.

In Evangelium Vitae, St. Pope John Paul II cites to Aquinas on the question of the natural law and its relationship to the civil law: “human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence”. And again: “Every law made by man can be called a law insofar as it derives from the natural law. But if it is somehow opposed to the natural law, then it is not really a law but rather a corruption of the law“. (para. 72).

As with abortion, civil law will again oppose natural law, leading to further corruption. We should be prepared for this, as we will remain subject to Caesar going forward.

Also recall that while this “culture war” has certainly spun into overdrive in the past decade, the efforts to redefine marriage are, in fact, centuries old. Nearly five hundred years ago, an English sovereign known as Henry VIII wished to establish a Tudor Dynasty that would outlive his reign, and to secure it he knew that he needed a male heir. Yet, his lawful wife, a princess of Spain, did not conceive and carry a male heir to term.

Thus, Henry decided that he would divorce his Queen and marry Anne Boleyn. To do this, the King tore Christendom asunder. The Pope, despite the efforts of Cardinal Wolsey, refused to grant an annulment. So Henry declared himself head of the Church of England, confiscated the Church’s property in his realm (making himself the richest King in the history of England, and perhaps all of Europe), and required every English subject to sign an oath affirming his headship of the Church in England and the queenship of Anne Boleyn.

14765606292_c54b6081d2_oScores of (Catholic) bishops, and hundreds, if not thousands of priests, all signed the oath and assented to the break with Rome. Their assent, however, was certainly under duress, since refusal to take the oath meant permanent residency in the Tower of London, the stripping of all titles, privileges and property, and ultimately, execution. They were cowards, but they kept their heads.

Only a handful of Catholic martyrs, including Bishop John Fisher and Sir Thomas More, refused to assent to Henry’s break with Rome, and for their steadfast loyalty they earned a swift death.

Also recall that for nearly a century, our laws in this country have favored the option of “no-fault” divorce, which permits civil dissolution of marriage absent cause. Husband and wife have been citing “irreconcilable differences” for some time now, which has harshly abused God’s intention for marriage. We’ve grown rather ambivalent about the bonds that God has joined together, that no man should put asunder.

And finally, we’ve also observed cultural shifts within the same last century that have adopted favorable attitudes regarding the use of artificial contraception and abortion. Many of our own Catholic brothers and sisters, and a much wider array of Protestant Christians and secular folks, have in their own marriages willingly traded the procreative aspect of marriage, and the call from God to remain open to the gift of children, in exchange for sex as recreational activity.

This too, has compounded our divorce rates, reduced the numbers of individuals who consider sexual activity to be something that belongs within marriage, and led to the further objectification of women.

In all, even without a new pronouncement from the Supreme Court, marriage “isn’t what it used to be”, or rather, for much of the world it is not what God intends. Inasmuch as we Catholics would see God’s laws reflected in our civil codes, we cannot be especially surprised at the so-called (civil) institution of marriage devolving to the point that it is so dissolute that it is virtually unrecognizable.

What remains to be gained from civil marriage is a package of legal entitlements, to which gay couples believe they should also be permitted to access, and for many, it is hard to disagree.

We shouldn’t blame them. What occurred prior to same-sex marriage to undermine the institution of marriage may well have had diabolical origins, but it was hardly the suggestion that two people of the same sex should be able to “marry” — however diabolical such a suggestion may be — that brought us to this point.

Now, more than ever, faithful Catholics are presented an opportunity to truly live their faith, stick out their own necks, and witness to the reality that marriage (as God intends) is a lifelong sacramental union of one man and woman, consisting of unitive and procreative aspects.

Catholics everywhere must joyfully proclaim the reality that strong marriages are established by God not just for husband and wife and their children, but as the foundational building block of society, the strength of which brings us closer to establishing the Kingdom and promoting the dignity of every person. We must articulate the Truth of marriage with the example of our living, and along the way we will show the world what it has abandoned.

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Dear ACLU: Go pound sand!

The “American Civil Liberties Union” holds itself out as an organization that “For almost 100 years….. has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

The First Amendment to our U.S. Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Amendment is First for a reason: the Founders believed that the protections granted by this Amendment were fundamental, primary, and most capable of being abridged. The fact that a majority of Americans no longer care about this right as much as “security”, “safety” or “privacy” does not mean that the First Amendment goes away. In fact, it continues to protect all Americans, and thank God for that.

But rather than do what it says it was founded to do (to wit, preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution…), the ACLU is now suing the federal government to obtain documents regarding the American Catholic Bishop’s refusal to provide contraceptive and abortion services to refugee immigrants who cross the border in to this country.

You scorekeepers will note that while religious liberty is the first specifically enumerated right that was explicitly established by the Bill of Rights, in contrast abortion and contraception are not to be found anywhere in said document. Rather, the notion of these things being “rights” is a legal fiction derived from a manufactured “privacy” right under the 14th Amendment, which prevents the state from interfering with “choice”.

The fact that the ACLU would prioritize a manufactured “right” in favor of an explicitly enumerated one is more proof that we live in the Age of Euphemism.

The Age of Euphemism: Claiming Religious Liberty as Latest Victim

Apparently Indiana broke the Interwebs by passing legislation which some are calling an “anti-gay law”. Opponents of the law have taken to Twitter, social media, and banner carried by blimp to declare that anyone who cares about religious liberty is, in fact, a “bigot” and “hater” who has no right drawing oxygen or consuming resources on our planet.

Apparently bigots are not worthy of toleration, but to the extent that bigotry is synonymous with Catholicism, we’ve known that for a while.

Individuals like the reigning CEO of Apple have lambasted the Indiana law, while various politicians and moguls have indicated that they (and the mammon they control) will “boycott” the state for having the temerity to pass a law that mirrors federal legislation and the laws of at least 17 other states.

Nevermind that Apple continues to do business with countries that will execute outed gay people (Nigeria, Uganda, Qatar, Saudi Arabia). No mention of those nations on Mr. Cook’s Twitter feed. So there’s a strong dose of political theater as an admixture to this whole thing, and it’s creating noxious odors.

Lest you think my position can be reduced to talking points, and before you object to my characterization that the Indiana law “mirrors” the federal and other states’ legislation, let me clarify that the big distinction claimed by opponents of the Indiana law is that the Indiana law provides a defense (not an automatic protection from prosecution) to instances where the government is not a party in the claimed violation of religious liberty.

That means that where, for example, the state is not involved in forcing a Christian florist to make floral arrangements for a gay wedding, the Indiana law would provide the business-owner with a defense against private civil liability for any “discrimination” claims brought by the aggrieved “victim”.

However, this argument entirely ignores the fact that the federal law does the very same thing as the Indiana law (provide a defense against private actions) in a number of federal appellate circuits where the issue has been decided by the federal appellate courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has yet to address the split in the appellate circuits on this issue, but it is simply untrue to say that the Indiana law does something novel that is unlike legislation elsewhere.

The more primary issue is that religious liberty (and conscience protections) are no longer closely held rights considered sacred by a majority of American voters, even though religious liberty is enshrined as one of our fundamental constitutional protections. Religious liberty is simply no longer relevant in today’s society.

Far more important — and relevant — to the average American “voter” (now “consumer”) is whether every claimed “public accommodation” must cater to every conceivable type of deviancy. One must not be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed when one tries to check into the Hilton Garden Inn with a bevy of goats for an evening that even satyrs would envy.

Because being precluded from spending money where I wish is the most gross and egregious violation of commercial liberty, and we all know that in today’s Western culture, commercial liberty trumps every other form of liberty, including free speech and religious liberty.

The only barrier to entry for commercial libertines is whether one has money or not. Having money means you play by the All-Important Rule Above All Other Rules: you cannot tell anyone else what to do with their money. Because that’s de facto bigotry.

Have a same-sex partner and want to manufacture a baby in a test tube implanted in the womb of your partner’s mother? If you can write the check it’s not a problem. Suffering from one of the “socially-conscious” diseases and need life-saving experimental treatment derived from stem cells lines from aborted fetuses? As soon as the credit transaction comes back “approved” we are good to go. Writing a “travel” book about the best places in southeast Asia to obtain the “services” of prostitutes (including underage victims of human trafficking)? Sure, here’s a list of interested publishers.

The poor, who lack money for things like “smart watches”, aren’t really people at all. If they were, they’d have commercial liberty. Since they don’t, they aren’t. So we can ignore them and continue as before.

After all, who I love is no one’s business, whereas who I engage in commerce with is everyone’s business, even if it offends the rational sensibility of social conscience held for the last 5,000 years, forces others to sanction the unsanctionable, or leads to offending the decency of the social order.

Anyone who disagrees will be destroyedi.e., separated from their moneyremoved from their property, position, and possessions, and sentenced to poverty, thus becoming non-human and entirely forgotten, where they can rot with the rest of the bigots while the Great Progression marches onward.

Houston’s Mayor and Her So-Called “Bathroom Bill”…..

…..Must be marinating in the stench of bovine feces, for trying to flush out and publicly shame Christian pastors. Suggest anyone who wishes to address the Mayor and City Council stand at the back wall of the chamber to avoid the noxious odors. Or better yet, wear a gas mask.

14801535173_f06e3cb5e0_oHouston’s new “non-discrimination” law provides, inter alia, that it’s discriminatory for men to be required to use the men’s restroom and for women to be required to use the women’s restroom at public places.

Opponents of the law filed a lawsuit against the city. The city, ostensibly at the direction of its mayor, issued subpoenas to a few of the pastors of the 400 area churches involved in a coalition opposed to the law (but who are not parties to the litigation), demanding copies of “any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor.”

Because only Christian haters are guilty of bullying and intolerance.

FFRF: When the Thing You’re After Doesn’t Exist

In this case, the “thing” is the whole point of FFRF’s existence, to wit, freedom from religion and a Universe without God.

There’s no such thing.

What there is is a cobbling together of individuals who fancy themselves somehow elite and intellectually superior who make declarations intended to quash the free exercise of religion. Atheism is a religion, because it requires faith and belief. Meanwhile, all it takes is one little pizza parlor to declare that Jesus is Lord to make it all come crashing down for them.

It’s all threats and intimidation.

There is No Legitimate “Right to Privacy” in making “Personal” Pornography

Recently computer hackers managed to break into the personal iCloud accounts of various female celebrities. These hackers stole digital photographs, including pictures of the celebrities naked.

The hackers committed a crime. Thou shall not steal.

Secular media (prompted by some of the celebrities themselves) states that “empathy” for victims is required because the “Right to Privacy” was violated, and that this violation is tantamount to sexual assault.

I object.

I don’t empathize with stupid. I pray for it. I ask for God’s mercy in connection with it. But I don’t empathize with it. The notion that I must have empathy is repellent to me, especially when many of these celebrities have already put themselves in the gutter by being filmed or photographed immodestly, earning a considerable amount of money and notoriety doing so.

To “empathize” in this instance is really euphemism: what’s demanded is that we condone and affirm poor choices and terrible conduct.

In Evangelium Vitae, Pope St. John Paul II states that in our secular culture, the human body is no longer perceived as “…a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world.” Rather, “it is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited…. it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts.” (para. 23).

The penetrating influence of the media results in “…..an extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life. A large part of contemporary society looks sadly like that humanity which Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans. It is composed ‘of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth’ (1:18)…. when conscience, this bright lamp of the soul (cf. Mt 6:22-23), calls ‘evil good and good evil’ (Is 5:20), it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness.” (para. 24).

Citing to a fundamental “Right of Privacy” as the basis to generate “personal” pornography places society in an extremely serious and mortal danger that confuses good and evil. But since we’ve developed such a tolerance (and perhaps even appetite for) public pornography, the point is almost lost on us.

Creating pornography is not an exercise of freedom. JPII cites St. Augustine who writes, “the beginning of freedom is to be free from crimes… like murder, adultery, fornication, theft, fraud, sacrilege and so forth. Only when one stops committing these crimes (and no Christian should commit them), one begins to lift up one’s head towards freedom. But this is only the beginning of freedom, not perfect freedom”. (para. 75).

Practically speaking (from the standpoint of this curmudgeonly Catholic), none of the images stolen by the hackers should exist. There should have been nothing to steal. Taking naked pictures for the purpose of depicting oneself as a sexual object is a sin. It denies the human dignity of the one objectified in the image, and it creates an occasion for sin in the one who sees it. Neither the viewer nor the producer is doing anything that advances them toward salvation.

We are called to live, dress, and act modestly, and this calling does not magically disappear as soon as we find ourselves behind closed doors.

The Catholic Church respects and supports the notion that individuals enjoy an expectation of privacy that must be respected by all. The Church teaches that “In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person… such as “the right to act according to a sound norm of conscience and to safeguard… privacy, and rightful freedom also in matters of religion.” (CCC 1907).

But the purported “Right to Privacy” assumed to exist in culture today was not explicitly set down as one of the enumerated constitutional rights in our American jurisprudence. Rather, the Right to Privacy is a manufactured legal fiction adopted by the U.S. Supreme Court to provide a basis for legalized abortion. It is the product of a carving out of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which was originally intended only to secure one’s privacy against state action.

This is not to say that privacy rights don’t exist; a right to privacy does exist, and under the section of the Catechism that discusses the Eighth Commandment, the Church teaches that “Everyone should observe an appropriate reserve concerning persons’ private lives. Those in charge of communications should maintain a fair balance between the requirements of the common good and respect for individual rights. Interference by the media in the private lives of persons engaged in political or public activity is to be condemned to the extent that it infringes upon their privacy and freedom.” (CCC 2492).

However, it is an abuse of the Right to Privacy to legitimize immoral and illicit behavior, including a variety of forms of deviant sexual activity (like the creation of pornography) or the products of such behavior, including abortion, contraception use, and so on. The Right to Privacy, properly articulated, does not mean that there exists a right to do things which violate the natural law simply because they are done in private.

There is a nuance here that is frequently missed by most, especially those in secular culture: freedom and rights are not synonymous. I may well have freedom, because God gives me freedom so that I might choose the good, but that does not mean that since I also possess the freedom to choose the bad, I also have the right to do so.

The exercise of a right presumes that the right exists, and we as moral actors do not ever possess the right to do evil, even when the law does not criminalize the evil in question. God may permit such actions, but he does not accept them or agree that they are a just use of our freedom. Legality — in civil terms — has the disastrous quality of eventually being equated with morality, which is why Catholics are called to participate in legislative activity and resist the creation or execution of unjust laws.

The Right to Privacy does not give license to behave however one likes so long as one does so privately. In Evangelium Vitae, St. Pope John Paul II cites to Aquinas on the question of the natural law and its relationship to the civil law: “human law is law inasmuch as it is in conformity with right reason and thus derives from the eternal law. But when a law is contrary to reason, it is called an unjust law; but in this case it ceases to be a law and becomes instead an act of violence”. And again: “Every law made by man can be called a law insofar as it derives from the natural law. But if it is somehow opposed to the natural law, then it is not really a law but rather a corruption of the law“. (para. 72).

Inasmuch as no person may permissibly make use of pornography under the natural law, likewise, no person – even the one depicted – enjoys a privacy right in its creation. Both the viewing and production of images for the purposes of sexual gratification are morally reprehensible acts. Any “Right to Privacy” that protects something which otherwise violates the natural law is not an authentic right, but a corruption of it.

Likewise, any demand for empathy toward the victims whose Right to Privacy has been violated is a corruption of the law as well, for one simple reason: no one should make oneself a pornographic object, even a “personal” or “private” one. Empathy — as much as creating a pornographic image, viewing it, or stealing it — makes one just another participant in the sin.

Freedom From Religion Foundation at it Again

atheistmemeThis time the great enemy is an Arkansas pizza parlor, just opened, that offers 10% discounts to people holding church bulletins. Ooh, the agony, horror, and intolerance of such a dastardly act! A discount for holding a piece of paper printed on a church-owned copier, with a bunch of other ads and notices printed on it! It’s like the Devil’s coupon book! It’s OFFENSIVE! I have a RIGHT not to be exposed to such things, because I say so, and what I say GOES! According to their Facebook page, the pizza place offers 10% discounts to veterans too. Shame! Shame! Shame! Who do these owners think they are, cramming their ideology down everyone’s throats! Time to unleash the letters and threats and make these evil persecutors PAY!

The owner is standing his ground. Huzzah! Freedom from religion is a legal fiction. 

On seeking Freedom “from” Religion

Nevermind that Atheism is a Religion, because it Requires Faith and Belief.

There is a restaurant in North Carolina that received national attention after a story went viral concerning a 15% discount offered to customers who paused for a moment of gratitude before eating their meal. In a nutshell, staff that observed patrons pausing to pray or express silent gratitude before eating could give a discount, marked on the receipt as “Praying in Public”.

The “Freedom from Religion Foundation” (“FFRF”) claims to be a nationwide non-profit organization of over 21,000 members. According to its website, FFRF members are atheists, agnostics, skeptics and “freethinkers”. The membership of FFRF is militant, in the sense that time and again their effort is to repress and eliminate all public forms of religious expression, citing to the fallacious premise (embedded in the organization’s name) that a “freedom from religion” exists at law.

Freedom from religion is a legal fiction. The First Amendment was never intended to provide a “separation of church and state”. Rather, the First Amendment clearly states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Our U.S. Government is not duty bound to ensure that no forms of religious expression wind up in public places. Rather, our U.S. Government is constitutionally prohibited from establishing religion, or preventing the free exercise of it.

But this nuance is rather lost on FFRF. In a letter it sent to the owner of the restaurant that offered the “prayer discount,” a staff attorney represented that offering such a discount “violates the Federal Civil Rights Act” and that “Any promotions must be available to all customers regardless of religious practice on a non-discriminatory basis.”

42 U.S.C. 2000a, et seq. is part of the Federal Civil Rights Act that defines “public accommodations.” It holds that “All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.”

A “public accommodation” as defined by FCRA includes “any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station.” (42 U.S.C. 2000a(b)(2)). As such, the diner in question likely constitutes a “public accommodation.”

We cannot forget Congress’ legislative intent in enacting the FCRA: making it illegal for businesses offering “public accommodations” to refuse to serve patrons on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. Prior to this law, businesses could refuse to serve patrons for being black, or Hispanic, or Jewish, etc. Refusing to serve patrons on such a basis is wrong.

However, there is nothing at all illegal (or discriminatory) about offering an incentive — a discount — to any patron, regardless of religious belief, for expressing a moment of silent gratitude before eating a meal served on premises. Silent moments of gratitude are apparently bad things in the view of FFRF, and it is misstating the law and its right to insist that the “prayer discount” be ended in three principal ways:

  1. FFRF improperly suggests that the promotion offered at the diner was not made available to “all customers regardless of religious practice.” There was no showing of this in the letter itself, nor is there any proof given for it outside the letter. Any patron — including someone pausing for a moment to mentally recite Carroll’s Jabberwocky — would arguably have been just as eligible to receive the discount as a Catholic who prayed to God with folded hands and a made sign of the cross at the end. Apparently management never sought to define acceptable religious (or non-religious) practice in relation to the discount; it only sought to award patrons with a discount when they expressed some form of gratitude before eating. By this standard, the next target of FFRF will be our nation’s Thanksgiving Holiday.
  2. FFRF should know (before making representations about the law) that a case against the diner in question is not actionable without an actual “case or controversy”. Courts — particularly federal courts of limited jurisdiction — do not entertain cases that essentially amount to seeking an advisory opinion. There must actually be an injured plaintiff seeking redress for an injury. Here, FFRF cannot claim that management offered the discount in a discriminatory way: there was not even a requirement that the patron actually pray (how could the management even determine this, after all?). Rather, the discount was applied for patrons who momentarily paused to make a gesture of (apparent) gratitude before eating. FFRF cited not a single atheist who went to the diner, briefly paused to reflect on the goodness of the food laid before them, and who was refused a discount. FFRF did not write on behalf of a particular patron to demand that he or she receive the discount because management refused the patron’s request. Equal application of the discount would be the extent of the relief available in court (along with attorney’s fees), but equal application isn’t what FFRF sought. Rather, FFRF sought an end to the discount without citing even one potential plaintiff who could actually bring a claim.
  3. While FFRF can certainly assert its belief that the “prayer discount” is illegal under the FCRA, my research indicates that there are no reported cases that actually hold this. It is simply an unsupported argument being made by FFRF to scare business owners.

The reaction of this business to FFRF’s letter is certainly understandable; small business owners can’t be expected to become embroiled in costly legal battles when they are in the business of serving tasty food. But it is nonetheless unfortunate that a business whose only “crime” was encouraging gratitude has been made to believe that commercial activity in today’s marketplace precludes it.

HHS Contraceptive Mandate: Amazed and Thankful!

Huzzah for separation of powers! It could have been 4-5, but today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, in favor of Hobby Lobby and the companion parties, establishing a precedent for religious liberty and deconstructing key elements of the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. A win:

Because RFRA applies in these cases, we must next ask whether the HHS contraceptive mandate “substantially burden[s]” the exercise of religion. 42 U. S. C. §2000bb–1(a). We have little trouble concluding that it does.

                           ***************

Arrogating the authority to provide a binding national answer to this religious and philosophical question, HHS and the principal dissent in effect tell the plaintiffs that their beliefs are flawed.

The Republic is not completely dead. It still raises its head and issues a roar from time to time. The entire decision is available here.

Still Waiting on the Other Shoe…..

…..But things are significantly more hopeful at the close of this week. In case you haven’t been paying attention, June 30 will be the close of the 2013 session of the United States Supreme Court. This blog was inaugurated last year with an entry concerning the Hollingsworth and Windsor cases, two decisions which by all accounts were poorly reasoned and continue to shake the foundations of our society.

I like to think that the best case scenario for the Court is that the Justices are capable of looking past ideologies. Don’t discount this. How’s Congress doing with that? Or the President?

I think that even Sotomayor and Kagan, can, possibly, be convinced by convincing argument. I suspect that, behind closed doors, books and articles are sometimes exchanged. Old cases are dusted off. Ideas are shared. Among nine undeniably brilliant individuals, perhaps reason still holds sway.

The most recent “big ticket” decisions might be an “exhibit” to this belief. This week we’ve seen unanimous decisions: no illegal search and seizure of cell phones if you get arrested; law enforcement needs a warrant. The Senate is in recess when it says it’s in recess. And setting up “buffer zones” around abortuaries is a violation of the First Amendment.

On Monday, we will see whether reason prevails again on the question of religious liberty and the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. This is the big one of the year, in my opinion. Pray extra hard on this one, because despite some renewed hope, I don’t think we’re going to see a unanimous opinion, and I think it could easily be 5-4 (or [shudder], 6-3) against. I’d love to be wrong.